The month of May is a time of many national celebrations and among them includes National Foster Care Month. While foster care and adoption can sometimes seem very similar, they are not. In fact foster care is often seen in a more negative connotation than adoption. Unfortunately, there are a lot of horror stories that have been attached to the foster care system. Although some of these cases are very real I think that is important that through this #MamaDay post we discuss the highlights of the Foster Care System. A lot of individuals have gone through this system and received some of the best care possible. So in the tradition of She.Is.Splendid we will focus on the positives.
As women we are expected to do all of what is considered to be the “light,” lifting of the world. All the while, we are still held to this standard of impossible perfection. We are told that we must cook, we must clean, and most importantly we must be that one special “man,” happy. But don’t forget we must also become mothers somewhere down the line. This general thought leaves out women who are unable to reproduce for several reasons and that is not fair.
In the same token there are millions of kids in the world who are in dire need of a home. That is why systems such as Foster Care and adoption agencies are in existence. Sweet children can find homes and parents who desire to have children or simply want to extend a helping hand can do just that. So let’s dive into some of the core reasons Foster Care is important and why we should celebrate Foster moms all over the world, whether they are formal or informally fostering as one’s mother.
A Safe Haven
There are several reasons why children end up living with a foster family. Often times these reasons include abuse, neglect or other severe familial issues within the biological family’s home. Therefore, when the state becomes involved some children are separated from their families. However, thankfully within the U.S. there are numerous foster care homes available for these minors. A lot of times this new environment becomes an instant safe haven or safe place for a child who may have just escaped a horrendous situation.
A Real Home
Now the term real can be subjective here because who is to truly say what that looks like. But, as a society we can mostly agree that for a child a home is a place where they feel/are safe, are well fed, clothed and have the resources to cover their basic needs. Nevertheless, Foster Care moms are amazing in their ability to create a loving atmosphere for the children of someone else and making sure that they feel comfortable. As a requirement there are certain safety precautions that foster parents must adhere to within their home. With that said, foster mothers are able to give their foster kids a house they can call home and that can put them at ease away from their past situation.
Now I do want to acknowledge that not all foster moms are formally within the Foster Care System. Everyday there are countless women who pick up where other mothers may have slacked off at or were simply unable to continue taking care of their child/ren. So we have many aunties, grandmothers, other relatives, and close friends who take on that new responsibility but with love in their heart for that child as their own.
A New Beginning
While this can tie into the first two points, children from the foster care system can be given a new opportunity at life. As many negative stories exist within the scope of the system, there are also several success stories of children who were raised within the foster care homes. Some children may have felt that life was completely over for them or that they would never be able to succeed in life based on where they were prior to their new home. Furthermore, foster care mothers may have a different perspective on life that the child isn’t familiar with which can serve as a motivator for their foster kids to go above and beyond in life. Take for example a few public figures that were raised in foster homes such as Malcom X, Simone Biles, James Dean and Cher. Where would some of us be without some of these awesome individuals?
Learn Key Social-Emotional Skills
A lot of times children who go through the Foster Care System are constantly moving from home to home but fortunately within those moments they are afforded the chance with learning some key social-emotional skills. Perhaps in their biological family home or even in a prior foster care home their guardian may have lacked the ability to teach them these key skills. However, there are foster mothers who can serve as an in home educator for their foster kids to learn what it means to channel their anger into a more positive force or even how to simply express when they are feeling certain emotions. These skills can truly help children later on down the line and life.
In most states, there are college benefits such as tuition assistance or even free tuition for students who have gone through the foster care system. According to research, most of the time this free tuition can only be applied to community college which is a great way for students to kick of their higher learning experience. In addition, there are several scholarships available for students who are from foster homes or have been adopted. In some cases, emancipated youth are even eligible for funds to help cover their costs of housing, transportation and other necessities as they are emerging into the stage of young adulthood.
Health Insurance Benefits
According to childwelfare.gov “the majority,” of youth from foster care homes are eligible for Medicaid through state programs that fund health insurance for citizens with the lowest or no income. For some states, such as California foster care children and youth are given Health Insurance until they are 21.
Last but certainly not least, there are specific programs setups locally for children and youth from foster care programs to learn necessary skills as they are growing into adults from their adolescence stage. Take for example the Independent Living Program or IPL that can provide youth as young as 17 years old with an apartment to learn independence skills with a case work and care provider. Within programs similar to IPL children from the foster care system are afforded with services that can educate them on how to find jobs, housing, scholarships and other ways to live a productive adult life.
We are thankful to the all the foster mamas and foster papas out there who welcome foster children into their home. As aforementioned, women are expected to keep the home together in more ways than one. So it is no surprise when countless women go above and beyond in their daily life to give up their homes to the children of others to give those same children a new chance at life. To all the foster mamas, whether or signed up for it or not, who take good care of their foster children, we thank you for selflessness, dedication and warm heart. Also, I especially commend those foster mothers who are also women of color and specifically Black women. There is a large number of black and brown children who are in the foster care system, and are often left behind. But with you they are not only given a home but a chance to live in a space that they may feel more connected to.
For those of you who might be interested in becoming a foster care parent, here are some resources you can access for that. Also, some of these resources discuss ways to get involved with foster care even if you aren’t able to take kids into your home and you would just like to help in other ways.
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