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May is National Foster Care Month, a time to shine the light on the foster care experience. Let’s start with some figures:
• More than 6,800 Kentucky children and youth are in out-of-home care, with 75 to 80 percent of those in foster care. Most are placed in temporary foster care due to parental neglect or abuse.
• The average age of a child in care: 10.7 years.
• More than 73 percent of the children/youth in care are white; 19.3 percent are black and 4.3 percent are Hispanic.
• The average length of stay for children in care is 25.5 months.
Those are just the numbers behind foster care. The figures do not tell the stories of the children/youth served through foster care nor do they highlight the hearts and souls of the parents who step up to care for our kids.
Those who step in to parent children who are not biologically theirs have a deep understanding of family and parenting that you’ll rarely encounter elsewhere. There’s something about caring for a child who is not linked to you through birth that teaches you some deep lessons about love and family.
Is foster parenting easy? No.
Is it for everyone? No.
Will you make a lot of money foster parenting? No.
More than 32 percent of the children in care range in age from 12 to 18.
Many of these kids have been in limbo for a long time and most just want a place where they belong, a family to call their own, a home and heart where they feel secure.
We all need to know that we matter, that someone loves us, that we are lovable. Our kids need strength and foundation in their lives. Some have never had structured parenting. Some have never known gentle, corrective discipline. Some have never known appropriate parental love and affection.
There are children and youth who need you. Please help create permanent, lifelong connections for these children and youth.