Keeping families strong during National Foster Care Month
Every child deserves to keep the meaningful connections they have with their relatives. This May, National Foster Care Month focuses on how relative and kin connections keep families strong.
When children cannot remain safely with their parents, they enter the foster care system. Within Illinois, the first option is to look for aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, or grandparents who will open their homes and provide a sense of normalcy to these children. Being placed into care with relatives can help reduce the trauma foster children experience when being separated from their family.
There are over 407,000 children and youth in foster care across the country (21,000 in Illinois), and over a third are placed with relatives (more than half in Illinois).
Sometimes an appropriate relative or kinship foster home can't be found, then licensed foster parents provide care for those children, giving them a safe, supportive, and nurturing home.
At the same time, foster parents also need to support the children's parents in their efforts to have them return home. The majority of children who enter foster care are able to return to their families. Foster parents play a significant and meaningful role in making this happen, whether they are a relative or non-relative foster family.
Last year, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, the second largest foster care provider in Illinois, cared for nearly 2,300 foster children and lead the state in being able to support families in order for children to safely return home.
"We are very proud that we lead the state in getting children back home safely and they remain home safely," explained LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand. "Our amazing foster families play a vital role in making that happen by building supportive relationship with the children's parents."
Community support from all areas is needed to help build better futures for children in care. Foster children go to school in the community. They will grow up and be adults in the community, so an investment in these children and their families from the beginning will benefit all of society in the end.
"At LCFS, we have a very diverse group of foster parents, including married couples, single men and women, all races, ethnicities, religions and members of the LGBTQ+ community," shared Bertrand. "But they all have one thing in common, a calling to help. Now with the number of children coming into care rising, we need more people to become foster parents and help children and families reach their full potential."
To learn more about becoming a foster parent or get started in the process, contact LCFS at 1-800-363-LCFS (5237) or visit www.lcfs.org/foster.
About Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois
Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois is a child welfare agency dedicated to improving the well-being of people across the state by protecting children, strengthening families and building futures for those who have experienced trauma.
After nearly 150 years, LCFS has grown into the second-largest community-based social service agency in Illinois with programs including foster care, adoption, counseling and preventative services. LCFS has regional sites in Chicago, Belleville, Decatur, Joliet, Kankakee, Mt. Vernon, Oak Brook, Quincy and Springfield. For more information, visit www.lcfs.org.