Readers’ Views

Support children, youth and their families

To the Editor:

May is National Foster Care Month. The theme for 2024 is “Engaging Youth, Building Supports, Strengthening Opportunities.” During this time, I’d like to highlight how child welfare agencies and foster care providers working together can support children, youth, and their families. Consider the following statistics and facts from Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare Information Gateway. They highlight the importance of helping foster youth who are exiting foster care by preparing them for independent living:

• There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care. Approximately 20.000 youth age out of the foster care system each year without a permanent family.

• In 2021, an estimated 77 percent of eligible youth in foster care, ages 14-21 years old, left care without receiving the federally funded services necessary to prepare them for adulthood and independent living.

• It is estimated that 22 percent of employed youth who have experienced foster care do not earn enough to rise out of poverty; 71 percent earn less than $25,000 a year.

• Between one-quarter and one-third of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness had a history of foster care.

• Young people must have equitable opportunities to build supportive, caring relationships with adults who support their education, career development, and employment goals.

• Relational permanency is fundamental to the well-being of children and youth in foster care. Stable, nurturing placements have positive impacts on children and youth’s resilience and long-term well-being.

Life-long connections with nurturing adults can make all the difference for the future of a child or youth in foster care. There is never a wrong time to start preparing a child for the future. Anyone can commit to helping children of any age recognize their strengths, build on them, and support growth in other areas simply by being involved.

Foster care providers can play a vital role in shaping the future of children and youth in our communities. If you have ever thought about becoming a licensed foster provider, take the time to reach out to me to discuss your options. There is no better time than right now to help provide children, youth, and their families access to opportunities that can help them have successful futures.

Jen Nelson, BS

Child Foster Care Licensor

Health & Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties


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