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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Illinois celebrates National Foster Care Month in May

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[May 03, 2007]  GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- This May, National Foster Care Month will serve as a platform for connecting vulnerable children with concerned adults who can help nurture children in foster care. This year's theme, "Change a Lifetime," focuses on getting more foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers and volunteers involved in creating positive relationships with children in foster care.

More than 500,000 children are in foster care in America, 16,000 of whom are in Illinois, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

"As the national organization for foster parents, NFPA, the National Foster Parent Association, is honored to participate in National Foster Care Month," said Karen Jorgenson, NFPA executive director. "We hope that communities across America will take time to remember our children in foster care and consider fostering children in their own community. It is essential for a child's well-being to have a caring and nurturing relationship with an adult."

While many Americans have welcomed foster children into their homes and become involved in child welfare issues, more participation is needed to prevent the following by 2020:

  • Nearly 14 million confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect will be reported.

  • More than 22,000 children will die of neglect or abuse, most before their 5th birthday

  • More than 9 million children will experience the foster care system.

  • More than 300,000 will "age-out" of the foster care system, and these young adults will be ill-prepared for success in higher education or the work force.

  • Almost 100,000 former foster youth who aged out of the system will experience homelessness.

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"Many children in foster care require secure, stable places to call home until they can either safely reunite with their parents or establish other lifelong family relationships," said Virginia Pryor of Casey Family Programs and chairwoman of National Foster Care Month. "We hope to inspire and engage many more individuals to take action in support of these children and their families. There are so many ways a person can positively affect the life of a child in foster care."

National Foster Care Month began in 1988, when the National Foster Parent Association persuaded Sen. Strom Thurmond to introduce a resolution honoring America's foster children. Today, the National Foster Care Month campaign is presented by 14 of the nation's largest child welfare organizations and is led by Casey Family Programs.

For more information about National Foster Care Month community events and activities, please visit www.fostercaremonth.org.

The National Foster Parent Association, based in Gig Harbor, Wash., is the only national organization that strives to support foster parents and remains a strong voice on behalf of all children. Currently, more than 500,000 children are in the foster care system in America. For more information about the association, visit www.nfpainc.org.

[Text from news release received from the National Foster Parent Association]

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