May is National Foster Care Month, opens a new window, a time to raise awareness in the Marin community and celebrate those who make a meaningful difference in the lives of youths in foster care. Resource families, opens a new window go above and beyond to support our most vulnerable youth.
The national theme for Foster Care Month 2021, opens a new window is "Foster care as a support to families, not a substitute for parents."
Support the child – and the family.
We need to change the way we approach foster care and authentically engage youth and families by listening to their perspectives, concerns, and suggestions. Authentic engagement involves giving youth agency to feel heard, showing them that they matter, and establishing strong connections to help them flourish.
Empower youth in foster care. At every stage, their voice matters.
Did you know?
- There are over 423,000 children and youth in foster care. Over half have a case plan to be reunited with their parents or caregiver.
- Marin averages 80 children in foster care, and nearly 30% of them are placed in homes outside of Marin because of a lack of Marin County resource families.
- Teen girls are 5 times more likely to be placed out of Marin than other children.
Everyone’s story, opens a new window is unique.
A personal story
We are the Knudsen family! We are empty nesters and have been foster parents for about 3 years. Our youngest child is 23 and is moving out after graduating from the police academy. Before we decided to become foster parents we talked with her and she was completely on board. She wanted other kids to have a fun, healthy, and loving home life experience too. We work with teen girls and absolutely love it! She became their immediate big sister and each teen was treated like family.
Each teenager that has come through our doors has been full of potential! Most of the time their challenges are due to the system and no fault of their own. We see them for who they can be, not their current, stressful, fearful, anxious self. Foster kids aren't "bad" - they are hurting, they are wounded and they want a fresh start and an opportunity. We help them realize that what happened in the past does not define who they are or will be in the future. It's so rewarding to hear how we have impacted their lives in a few short months. We want kids to experience a place of love, hope, security, and love again, where they can regain trust in themselves and others. Not an easy task but absolutely doable.
I would encourage anyone who has love to give, security, encouragement, and faith, to consider being a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect, you just gotta care.
Lesia and Steve Knudsen
(Note: original story, opens a new window has been edited for space considerations)
Children in the child welfare system deserve to live in stable and loving homes. The objective is to keep foster children in their current community, keep siblings together, and make thoughtful matches between kids and families. The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, opens a new window (HHS) lacks a larger, more diverse pool of potential homes. Resource families can provide temporary care to children while biological families work toward reunification, or they can choose to be an adoptive family; both are needed.
To learn about becoming a foster parent/resource family, you can attend a monthly orientation meeting, opens a new window hosted by HHS’ Children and Family Services Division, opens a new window. The next virtual orientation is on May 13. Register here, opens a new window.
Joining the foster resource community is an opportunity to give back to society and share your unique skills and interests with a child. Enrich the life of a child as well as your own!
For more information, contact Marin HHS using their email form, opens a new window or call (415) 473-2200.
Books about Foster Youth, opens a new window
Apffel, Julia. (2021, March). Marin Foster Youth Need You, opens a new window. Marin Living [magazine]
Compain, Taffy. (2021, May 1). Prioritizing engagement, connections for youth and families to improve long-term outcomes, opens a new window. The Family Room Blog. Administration for Children & Families. Children's Bureau [a division of national HHS]
(2020, May 11). Foster youths need welcoming homes, opens a new window. County of Marin. [news release]
(n.d.) Foster our future, opens a new window. Marin County Children and Family Services. Marin Health & Human Services [county agency]
(2021). National Foster Care Month, opens a new window. Administration for Children & Families. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Children’s Bureau. US Department of Health & Human Services [website]