The month of May is National Foster Care Month in the U.S., a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. The COVID-19 outbreak has proved devastating to the foster care community, as many of the support networks that foster youth and their families depend on are no longer accessible. Youth in foster care are facing increased placement instability, disruptions to their education and employment, and social isolation, while not being able to rely on families for support.
With NortonLifeLock offices in California and Arizona, we’ve appreciated the states’ increased support of foster youth during this time. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to allocate $42 million to address the needs of young people in foster care and others living in low-income families.
California has approximately 59,000 children in foster care and nearly $7 million will support overtime and additional outreach by county social workers. Three million will fund Family Resource Centers and provide direct support and services to foster families. In addition, the governor announced an extension of the foster program to give older youth the option of staying with their current caregivers, as approximately 200 foster care youth age out of the system each month.
In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Child Safety is now allowing couples to begin the adoption and foster-care process virtually due to the pandemic. Without face-to-face contact, foster care workers are also getting creative to stay connected using technology like Zoom and FaceTime to keep up kids' visits with their biological parents.
How you can get involved during National Foster Care Month:
There are more than 430,000 kids in foster care across the U.S. Here are five ways to support foster youth and their families even while we’re physically distancing:
- Support Together We Rise, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the experience for children in the foster care system. Sponsor a meal for a foster family or group home, help displaced college students find stable housing, help foster families keep their utilities on, and more.
- Learn what it’s like to be a foster parent at an online information session hosted by Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) in Tempe, Arizona. AASK recruits, trains and supports adults serving as mentors, as well as families building relationships with children through adoption and foster care.
- Celebrate the remarkable Pivotal scholars and alumni who have truly beaten the odds to graduate from high school, pursue a career in a field they never imagined possible, or become the first in their family to earn a college education. Listen to their stories, register for a virtual Ducky Derby, or record videos to join Pivotal’s virtual cheer squad.
- Volunteer as a telephone counselor at The Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara, California, which provides housing, education, counseling, and advocacy services to more than 6,300 children, young adults, and families.
- Add your name to the voices across the U.S. calling on Congress to increase Chafee funding in future coronavirus relief packages. Chafee grants provide support to older foster youth as they transition out of the foster care system and foster youth advocates are asking Congress to increase Chafee Funds by $500 million. Learn more and join the #UpChafee campaign on Twitter.
NortonLifeLock has a proud history of supporting foster youth. Our Fostering a Secure Tomorrow (FAST) initiative helped address the unique identity theft and cyber security risks faced by foster youth. Through FAST, we provided online resources and trainings, donated security software, and worked to help change behaviors that could make foster youth vulnerable to identity theft. This May, foster youth need us, perhaps now more than ever. We hope you’ll consider showing your support.
Learn more online: National Foster Care Month
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