“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ~ Fred Rogers

Whether you are a foster parent or child welfare professional who helps those in foster care, we want to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices you make to help children, youth, and families. Every May we observe National Foster Care Month, recognizing the many children and youth affected by the foster care system, and the efforts made to make their lives better. In Minnesota, approximately 12,400 children and young adults experienced out-of-home care during 2021. On an average day, there were approximately 7,700 children and young adults in care, based on preliminary 2021 data. As we continue to seek better outcomes for families throughout the year, let us use this month to acknowledge where we are and how we can change things for the better.

This month the Child Welfare Information Gateway is focusing on mental health in foster care in a campaign called Strengthening Minds, Uplifting Families. They hope to raise awareness around mental and behavioral health being the largest unmet need for children and teens in foster care, and the importance of uplifting conversations about mental health to strengthen and support children, youth, and caregivers. They are also offering a powerful resource called Reflections: Stories of Foster Care, which shares the personal stories of individuals with direct experience with the foster care system.

Foster Adopt Minnesota (formerly known as MN Adopt), has a network that answers many of the questions individuals may have about becoming foster parents, about the children being served in foster care, and about the licensing process. They are dedicated to supporting and sustaining families who adopt Minnesota Waiting Children by providing online resources and referrals to therapeutic and crisis services, support groups, adoption information, and comprehensive training opportunities. This article shares more information about why children end up in foster care, as well as the foster care system itself.

In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy (MNCWTA) offers training for prospective families, and support for Minnesota counties and tribes who oversee their licensure. Beginning this May, agencies will benefit from changes that have been made to improve the registration process and overall communication for our Foster Parent College and PreService Training program. You can also visit the DHS website for more resources, programs, and services.

Our deepest appreciation goes out to the foster families, child welfare professionals and volunteers, mentors, policymakers, and other partners who help children and youth in foster care find safe and loving homes. If you have questions, please contact us anytime.