All children deserve a safe, happy life – including the nearly 500,000 American youth in foster care. Young people in foster care especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them.
Each May, we salute the compassionate people who make a difference by serving as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers, and volunteers. Thanks to these unsung heroes, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will either safely reunite with their parents, be cared for by relatives, or be adopted by loving families.
But some children in foster care are less fortunate. Most communities across the country are urgently seeking more everyday people to help these youth overcome their troubled childhoods and realize their full potential. No matter what their age, every young person in foster care benefits from a meaningful connection to a caring adult who becomes a supportive and lasting presence in his or her life.
The number and diversity of people who were once in foster care might surprise you. In fact, there are an estimated 12 million foster care alumni in the U.S. representing all walks of life. Behind this startling statistic are countless stories of children who grew up to be thriving adults while others struggled with life’s challenges all alone. The difference between triumph and tragedy is very clear. Success stories come about when someone takes the time to offer comfort, provide support, give advice, or simply share a milestone moment with a youngster enduring a difficult family situation.
In Marion County there are 102 children in out-of-home care. 45 of these children are in agency custody and placed in foster care or treatment facilities, while the other 57 are in kinship care placements with family members or friends.
As part of the Foster Care Month celebration, the Marion County Commissioners proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month during their meeting on Tuesday, May 03, 2011. Placement Services Supervisor, Cheryl Cobb spoke briefly, explaining the important job that foster parents do each and every day. Expressing that “they are exceptional people doing extraordinary work with children.” Cobb then introduced an unsung hero, a licensed foster parent with Marion County, Melissa Harrison. Harrison thanked the Commissioners for the proclamation and the agency for their support before she shared her experience as a foster parent. She shared how rewarding the experience can be and encouraged others to consider the challenge as well.
This month we would like to recognize and thank the numerous kinship providers and the 33 licensed foster families in Marion County and encourage others to consider doing the same, because the foster care “system” is only as good as those who choose to be part of it.
No matter how much time you have to give, you have the power to do something positive that will “Change a Lifetime” for a young person in foster care. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.marionkids.com or call Marion County Children Services at 740-389-2317 today.
Article written by: Terrie Robinson, Placement Services Coordinator, MCCS