National Foster Care Day Date in the current year: May 7, 2024

National Foster Care Day National Foster Care Day is observed on the first Tuesday of May every year, during National Foster Care Month. It was created to recognize the efforts made by foster parents across the nation while raising awareness of the issues in the foster care system that need to be resolved.

Foster care is a system in which minors are placed into an institution, group home, or private home of a state-certified caregiver or a family member approved by the state. The caregiver, referred to as a foster parent, is responsible for the day-to-day care of the foster child, but all legal decisions regarding the child are made by the state, via child protective services and family courts. Foster parents are compensated for expenses by the state, unless they are family members.

In the United States, the foster care system was started by philanthropist Charles Loring Brace in the mid-19th century. He took homeless and neglected children from the streets and slums of New York City and placed them with families across the country. Currently, there are more than 400,000 children in the American foster care system at any given time. Many of them have suffered the effects of neglect, abuse, poverty, or even the death of loved ones.

Foster care is intended as a short-term solution until the child can be reunited with the biological parents or adopted. However, many children spend years being bounced between foster homes and eventually age out of the system. Once a foster child reaches the age of 18, they are on their own and have no familial support, resources, or even job or life skills. Foster parents play an essential role in the lives of children without guardians, but they are not meant to be long-term caregivers, so it is very important to highlight the drawbacks of the foster care system and provide children who age out of the system with support as they transition into adulthood.

The month of May was designated as National Foster Care Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. It originally focused on recognizing foster parents for opening their homes to children in need and taking care of them. Over time, however, its focus has shifted to highlighting the various issues in the foster care system and raising awareness of the struggles of young adults who age out of the system.

National Foster Care Day has been observed as part of National Foster Care Month since 2017. It was launched by National Day Calendar in collaboration with Project Blue and Ticket to Dream, organizations dedicated to educating the general public about the issues within the foster care system, creating better lives for foster children, and providing caregivers with resources and support.

There are many ways to get involved with National Foster Care Day. You can wear blue to raise awareness and start conversations about foster care, donate to or volunteer at a foster care nonprofit, support foster parents in your community, consider becoming a foster parent (of course, if you have the time, means, and a sincere desire to help), and spread the word about the observance on social media with the hashtags #NationalFosterCareDay and #FosterCareBlue.

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National Foster Care Day, National Foster Care Month, observances in the US, foster care, foster care system