We all know May brings those long-awaited flowers sprung to life by April showers…but it also ushers in an exciting time to raise awareness for foster care! Each May is National Foster Care Month, and this year’s theme is “Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.” The spotlight is on mental health.
There’s no more appropriate time to focus on youth mental health: every day, children across the country struggle with their mental health. You can move the system forward in supporting the mental health needs of our nation’s diverse populations using a holistic and culturally responsive approach.
Here are five ways for agencies and social workers to get started:
1. Use resources to help you connect with youth around mental health, including these examples of best practices from the National Foster Care Month website.
2. Hear from people who have been in foster care. There is nothing more helpful than hearing from people who have lived it. What could have been better? What worked? What lessons can you bring into your job now? Alumni perspectives on the AdoptUSKids blog and reflections on the foster care month website are both great places to start.
3. Affirm LGBTQ+ youth and encourage foster parents to do the same. When Nia was in foster care as a transgender youth, she remembers one of her homes being affirming. Hear from Nia about how foster parents can create affirming experiences for children in their care.
4. Help foster families and first families stay connected. Research shows this is crucial for children’s well-being. Children are more likely to stay connected to their culture if they have relationships with their first family members. And they may also gain a better sense of belonging.
5. Raise awareness by posting outreach materials on your social media accounts and websites through this nifty outreach tool from the National Foster Care Month website! There, you can download gifs, facts, and language to use in your posts and emails. This little lift goes a long way in raising awareness. Plus, you can follow the conversation all month long through the hashtag #FosterCareMonth on social media.
Want to be the first to know when a new tool or guide is created to help in your work with foster and adoptive families? Sign up for the AdoptUSKids newsletter.