November is National Adoption Month, and the focus of the month is adoption of children in foster care. The Children’s Bureau, part of the federal Administration for Children & Families, promotes National Adoption Month and organizes it nationwide. The theme this year is “Every Conversation Matters,” with a focus on asking youth to tell their story and asking adults to listen to youth in ways which honor and incorporate their voices.
As CASA volunteers and staff, we have an important role in telling the stories of youth in foster care. Ways to incorporate youth stories begin with building an authentic, honest, and trusting relationship with youth. This can be achieved by being honest and real with what is happening, practicing reflective listening, recognizing past trauma, and focusing on strengths. It also includes partnering with youth in permanency planning. You can do this by letting them advocate for themselves, helping them to guide the conversation, creating opportunities for youth, and talking with them about relationships and family. Finally, you can make a difference by enhancing your capacity to partner with youth. This is done by recognizing that the relationship is a journey and takes one step at a time. You can also teach children about how trauma, separation, and loss can affect relationships. Like everyone, youth who are in foster care want to be heard and involved in their own futures.
Some people may feel the call to go further in their advocacy by becoming a foster parent. To start, visit http://adopt.ky.gov to learn more and to begin the process for changing a child’s life. As a foster parent, you will have a significant impact on a youth’s life and can help them begin or continue the process of healing.
Currently, Kentucky has 9,109 youth in foster care for various reasons. Most youth are placed in private child placement foster homes (36%) or in Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) foster homes (35%). The average age of entry into foster care in Kentucky is 7 years old and the average youth spends 25 months in foster care.* Nationally, there are around 400,000 in foster care, with about 120,000 needing adoption.
Every step towards supporting National Adoption Month is important. It can be learning more about youth in foster care, encouraging others to become involved, becoming a CASA volunteer to advocate for children, or becoming a foster parent. Thank you for taking the first step. To learn more about National Adoption Month, visit: