May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. Since it was first observed in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan, National Foster Care Month has been recognized and celebrated in the United States during the month of May every year.

Foster parents rarely get the recognition they deserve, stepping up to care for an often whelming revolving door of children in need. The original focus of NFCM was to shine a light on under-appreciated work foster parents do for a community by opening their homes and caring for those who may otherwise have no one else.

According to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, it is currently estimated that over 408,000 children are in foster care. Some of these children aren't eligible for adoption, but many of them are. Every year, over 30,000 children age out of the foster system without a chance at permanence, which means the foster children are reaching the age of eighteen, no longer wards of the state, and out on their own. This means that the youth over the age of eighteen have no familial support, resources, or even job or life skills. These facts have fueled the motivation behind National Foster Care Month.

Congress also recognizes National Foster Care Month as well. In 2015 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced a resolution recognizing May as National Foster Care Month. The resolution stated that “an increased emphasis on prevention and reunification services is necessary to reduce the number of children that are forced to remain the foster care system” and called on “Congress to implement policy to improve the lives of the children in the foster care system.”

The resolution had 125 cosponsors.

During this month, there are volunteer opportunities and information meetings that take place across the country. The topics of those meetings include how to become a foster parent, how to support the local foster community, and how to adopt from foster care. For local residents who are interested in foster care or just want to learn more, KVC Kansas can help.

KVC Kansas (KVC Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.) represents one of the strongest and broadest child welfare and behavioral healthcare continuums in the nation. They are responsible for the care of all children served by the Kansas Department for Children and Families’ Kansas City Metro and Eastern Regions, which includes 30 counties and more than half of all children in the child welfare system.

KVC provides ongoing case management, therapy, family education and support, transportation and aftercare services, impacting thousands of children and family members each day. Staff members use evidence-based practices such as Trauma Systems Therapy (TST). KVC believes that children can’t wait, and has helped Kansas achieve national leadership in child welfare standards set by the federal Children and Family Service review; outcomes that ensure child safety, permanency and wellbeing.

KVC is accredited by The Joint Commission and was also recognized by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a best-practice provider in children and family services; one of only four in the nation.

Guidelines

The requirements for becoming a foster parent vary from state to state; however, to meet general requirements in Kansas you must:

* Be at least 21 or older

* Be able to meet basic income guidelines

* Be free from any type of assistance including, but not limited to, Section 8 Housing, food stamps, TANF, or Medicaid

* Be able to provide adequate bedroom space that meets local fire codes and have a separate bed for each child

* Have reliable transportation

* Be willing to complete 30 hours of free training in “Trauma-Informed Partnering for

* Safety and Permanency – Model Approach for Partnerships in Parenting” (TIPS-MAPP)

* Agree to use non-physical discipline for children

* Be willing for everyone in your household to undergo complete background checks. All licensees will be fingerprinted as a part of the federal Adam Walsh Act

For more information visit kansas.kvc.org/services/foster-care/