Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yolo Co. celebrates Foster Care Month

National Foster Care Month celebrated in Yolo County
Foster children, families work to increase awareness

Burks, Courtney Burks. California Aggie, May 16, 2007.

Foster children and their parents are celebrating in Yolo County and around the country in light of National Foster Care Month. The month of May is selected as NFCM in order to increase awareness about the issues abused or neglected children and the families who take them in face.

According to the NFCM campaign, there are currently 513,000 foster children in America who have special needs or whose families are unable to care for them. Originating in 1988, NFCM was established to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work of foster-care families across the country.

Virginia Pryor, chair of the NFCM campaign, said May was chosen to celebrate the foster families because it follows in line with April's National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and that the general population is more easily able to get involved in appreciation for foster children and parents.

"[NFCM] means that we have a designated time each year to raise visibility of the issue of foster care exponentially," Pryor said. "Similar to breast cancer awareness, we focus our energy and our commitment through 14 national organizations to uplift the critical issue of foster care and educate the general public about this vulnerable population and how they can make a difference."

Juliana Shon, a Yolo County social worker and foster care recruitment and retention specialist, said many events have been taking place in Yolo County to recognize the foster parents in the area.

"We've gone to the capitol to lobby to get new legislation passed for more supportive services, we have a movie night for the children and we are holding a special appreciation dinner on May 24, where free child care will be provided for the foster parents," Shon said.

Cherie Schroeder, director of the Foster and Kinship Care Education Program for Yolo County, said there is a great need for more foster-care families in the United States and she hopes to see a great change in the coming years.

"Children and youth in foster care require safe, stable, and nurturing environments to live in until they can either safely reunite with their parents or establish other lifelong family relationship," Schroeder said. "Yolo County is urgently seeking many more everyday people to come forward for our nation's most vulnerable children so they may realize their full potential."

Shon said the purpose of NFCM is to show appreciation for the foster families who have dedicated their time to providing safer atmospheres for foster children.

"We like to consider foster parents as professional parents," she said. "Without them, our children would be placed in emergency shelters or crisis nurseries, as the children are removed from a home where they've been abused or neglected."

The message of this year's NFCM encourages more families to get involved in providing foster care for children across the country.

"No matter how much time you have to give, you can do something positive to change the lifetime for a young person in foster care," the message states.

For more information, visit the National Foster Care Month website at fostercaremonth.org