Understanding and Taking Action: Supporting Foster Youth

Every May we observe Foster Care Awareness Month in honor of the over 400,000 children nationwide living in the foster care system. In Virginia, over 5,000 children are currently placed in foster homes, group homes, and residential facilities through no fault of their own. These children deserve not just our attention, but our action to support them in achieving brighter futures. In this article, we’ve compiled resources to help you understand the intricacies of growing up within the foster care system that we encourage you to share and discuss with your networks. Most importantly, we’ve included action steps you can take to tangibly support foster youth in our community and help make a difference in their lives.

Tools for Understanding – Educating Children

When it comes to discussing foster care, Sesame Street is at the forefront of presenting the topic to our children. Introduced in 2019, Karli is a young Sesame Street monster living with her “for-now parents.” Karli, supported by her best friend Elmo, shares her story of what it is like to live in foster care, why she has foster parents, and discusses other tough topics related to foster care. Sesame Street developed an amazing resource center to help children and their families understand Karli’s story and the stories of other children just like her through their Sesame Street in Communities Program.

Tools for Understanding – Foster Care by the Numbers

We recognize that some minds prefer a more analytical approach to understanding topics, and thanks to Foster Club’s Infographic linked here, a broad spectrum of data points are available to tell the story of our nation’s foster children. The data paints an incredibly detailed picture of foster care in America including why children enter foster care, where they are placed once in the foster care system, their demographics, and much more. Children in foster care have diverse experiences and this data scratches quantifies their narratives. Read on to learn more.

Tools for Understanding – Stories from Foster Care

One of the greatest tools we have for learning more about foster care is simple: listening to the youth, telling their own stories with their own voices. Foster Club’s Real Stories blog section is a great resource to hear directly from foster youth. Each youth featured tells their own story to inspire, educate and advocate. We’re impressed by the wealth of diversity in these stories from youth in foster care. Featuring Native American youth, LGBTQ youth, and other voices from traditionally marginalized groups, the stories are a well-rounded and authentic representation of our country’s foster youth. Next, we recommend that you dive into Emily’s Story, a 12-part narrative created by our sister program, Texas CASA, that not only explores Emily’s foster care story but also demonstrates the positive impact her CASA had on her during her time in care. Emily’s Story is certainly worth the investment to understand not only the ups and downs of foster care, but also a CASA’s role in helping a child understand the complexities of the system.

Taking Action – Support our local Department of Family Services

Our local Department of Family Services cares for children while they are in foster care. The many dedicated professionals that make up our local DFS are truly committed to their well-being and ensuring they have every opportunity for success. There are many ways in which you can support DFS from taking the big leap of learning about becoming a foster parent, to mentoring a foster child, volunteering your time, or donating relevant needs for youth in care.

Taking Action – Support Fairfax CASA

You can support our program and the foster youth we serve in a variety of ways! If you’d like to learn more about becoming a CASA yourself, don’t hesitate to learn more here and take the first step to becoming an advocate. You can also show your support by making a contribution to our DoMore24 campaign in partnership with the United Way. We have a fundraising goal of $5,000 this year and every gift will help ensure our CASAs can continue their vital advocacy work. Unable to volunteer or make a financial commitment?  You can still make a huge impact: Simply share this article with family, friends, and colleagues to help raise awareness for foster children everywhere!