Foster Care Awareness Month is more urgent than ever
"These are challenging times and we've all been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. But children, like other vulnerable populations, are disproportionally affected," explained Mike Bertrand, president and CEO of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS). "With the arising of May, which is Foster Care Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to 'Foster Hope, Foster Love, Foster a Child' as we raise awareness that foster children and their birth families need support now more than ever."
Before the pandemic hit, LCFS and the child welfare system as a whole were facing a shortage of foster parents. Foster parents offer children unconditional love and help them to work through the trauma of being separated from their birth parents. Individuals, who are able to assume these responsibilities as well as the joys of fostering a child and embracing his/her birth parents continue to be in short supply.
"Today, foster parents are caring for children despite the new challenges facing them due to the pandemic," shared Bertrand. "Many have seen their hours cut or they have been laid off. Still others are having child care issues due to being considered essential workers while schools are closed. Others are struggling to connect their foster children with virtual school learning because they don't have a laptop. Many are helping to sustain the child's relationship with their birth parents through video chats and FaceTime."
Yet foster parents continue to provide loving care to the children in their home despite all the obstacles they face. Cindy, an LCFS foster mom explained that, "Being a foster parent is so rewarding. It is hard work, but if it is within your heart to help these children then do it. They deserve any chance that they can be given to have a better life."
Across the state, LCFS' child welfare workers are providing essential services helping foster families deal with these and other complicated challenges. Staff go to food pantries themselves to pick up food for foster families. They provide links to whatever resources they can track down, but there is only so much they can do.
It is on the behalf of foster children, foster parents and birth families, President Bertrand is asking people to be "ALL IN" for Foster Care Awareness Month requesting, "During this time of stay at home and social distancing, please support child welfare services financially and consider for the future, welcoming a foster child "ALL IN" to your family and your home providing these children the hope, love and healing they need."
For more information on fostering a child or providing financial support to the children in the foster care system, visit the LCFS website at www.lcfs.org.
Tracing its roots to 1873, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois improves the well-being of people across the state by protecting children, strengthening families and building futures for those who have experienced trauma. We do this as a leading provider of a variety of child welfare services. LCFS is a welcoming organization that serves people of all faiths, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender-identifications.