USA (MNN) — In the U.S., foster care has had its own month since 1988.
President Ronald Reagan initiated National Foster Care Month to recognize foster parents who opened their homes to children in need. It has been celebrated annually in May ever since.
“We know that children are best raised in families, not institutions,” stated U.S. President Barak Obama in this year’s Presidential Proclamation recognizing National Foster Care Month.
“And each year, men and women of all backgrounds open their homes and hearts to foster children.”
Over a quarter-century after its inception, is National Foster Care Month still a big deal? Kim Offutt of Bethany Christian Services says, “Yes.”
“Kids who are in foster care, I’ve heard them be coined as ‘the forgotten children.’ And this month is bringing them to our awareness,” Offutt explains.
In some ways, the statistics are better now than in previous years. But, they’re still a cause for concern.
Nearly 400,000 children are living in foster care. Over 100,000 foster kids are eligible for adoption, according to the U.S. government, but nearly a third of them wait more than three years to find a “forever family.”
In addition, 23,000 children “age out” of the foster care system each year, and most wind up on the streets. A quarter of them are incarcerated within two years, and only half graduate from high school.
Is there hope for foster kids?
National Foster Care Month serves not only to raise awareness of foster care issues and statistics, but to motivate families to care for children in need. Bethany strives toward the same goals, but with an eternal focus.
Through their No One Without (NOW) campaign, Bethany promotes foster care adoption. By placing foster kids with Christian families, Bethany is helping change young lives for eternity.
“James 1:27 clearly says, ‘Pure and faultless religion is this: to care for the orphan.’ And that is what our families are doing…they’re not just caring about, they’re caring for,” Offutt says.
“We are truly being His hands and feet, right here on this earth. We’re living out His Word, and that is how we’re reaching our young people.”
“I like to tell people, ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?'” says Offutt. “There are kids right here in your community, right here in your schools, right in your churches, that need homes [and] that need families.
“You could possibly be that family, or you may know [someone] that could be that family.”
Tomorrow, find out how businesses are getting involved in foster care adoption through Bethany.