PORTLAND, Ore. – Every May, organizations around the
country work to raise awareness about National Foster Care Month. What
gets lost in the story is the lifelong impact that the foster care
experience can have on a child’s life and how they can thrive with the
Friends of the Children’s model of pairing children impacted by foster care with a salaried, professional mentor called a Friend is becoming a sought-after model in communities across the country. Over 12+ years, Friends build trusting, one-on-one relationships with each child, providing consistency and stability amidst the often chaotic and unstable experience of foster care.
Following is a statement from Friends of the Children CEO Terri Sorensen:
“Right now, there are 26,000 5-year-old children in foster care who could thrive with the support of a Friend—a salaried, professional mentor who stays with each child in the Friends of the Children program from kindergarten through graduation – 12+ years, no matter what.
In 2016, the median age of a child entering foster care was age 6, the age at which they are in kindergarten. This is also the time at which children are enrolled in our program, and that is no coincidence. Research has also shown that early intervention is critical to setting young children on a path that allows them to grow socially, emotionally and academically.
On average, a child in foster care will experience three placements. Each foster care placement will most likely result in six months of academic loss. A recent study by the nonprofit research organization Child Trends also shows that the average time in foster care is 20.1 months.
We live this experience with our youth daily. Nearly 40 percent of the amazing children around the country who we have the privilege of serving have been impacted by foster care. Our youth demonstrate incredible resilience, working to find their way with the support of a Friend. They have often experienced far too much trauma at a young age—through no fault of their own. They are then re-traumatized by the foster care system – a system that is not equipped to provide the support children in care need.
Friends of the Children serves as an advocate for youth in foster care, making sure that their needs are being met, that they are going to school and that they are getting the support they need. We also support entire families (biological and foster), helping them to navigate the child welfare system, build and maintain healthy family bonds and help through transitions – whether they are placed with a relative, reunited with their biological families or placed with a foster family.
As organizations around the country work to raise awareness about National Foster Care Month, we want the focus to be on the children. They are the true heroes of their own stories."
Find resources, facts and stories about the amazing youth served by Friends of the Children at