• Engaging Youth. Building Supports. Strengthening Opportunities

  • May is National Foster Care Month! 

    National Foster Care Month (NFCM) in May is an important opportunity to spread the word about the needs of the more than 391,000 children and young people in foster care. This year's NFCM theme—"Engaging Youth. Building Supports. Strengthening Opportunities."—shines a light on how we can best support young people and help them successfully transition to adulthood. In fact, nearly 20,000 young people transition 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. Foster youth who transition out of care without strong connections are more likely to become homeless, be diagnosed with mental health disorders, suffer from substance abuse, and become involved in the juvenile justice system. However, data also shows that extended foster care is associated with improved access to services and positive outcomes for older youth ages 18 to 21. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of youth in extended foster care, through their 19th birthday, received more services, than older youth not in extended foster care.

    So how can young people in foster care be supported?

    By creating 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.  

    By recognizing that youth and young adults are experts on their own lives. Empowering youth to make informed decisions about the services and supports they receive, who they receive them from, and when can help young people connect with providers and improve outcomes.

    By making sure that you have access to federally funded services. For young people in foster care—especially those exiting care without connections to a permanent family—federally funded services can be the difference between stability and instability. Referring youth to federally funded services, such as housing, education, employment, health care, and family support, can provide the assistance needed to help youth thrive.

    By engaging in cross-system collaboration. Services and supports must be responsive to the unique ways older youth enter, experience, and exit the foster care system.

    Foster Care in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

    Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has designated an ESSA Foster Care Point of Contact position to ensure cross-system collaboration and improve access to available supports in education for around 250 students who experience the foster care system each school year. The District ESSA Foster Care Point of Contact is School Social Worker Rhonda Lang. Rhonda collaborates with WS/FCS Student Services support staff, Educators, Administrators, Transportation Department, and Child Nutrition in addition to Child Welfare Agencies across the country. Rhonda also collaborates with local community partners such as The Children’s Home’s youth advocacy organization, SaySo, and Crosby Scholars’ LIGHHT Program, to advocate for and bring awareness to the needs of students in substitute care and those transitioning to adulthood. Please contact Rhonda Lang to make sure she is aware of any WS/FCS students in the custody or guardianship of DSS. She can be reached by email rblang@wsfcs.k12.nc.us or by phone at 336-399-7344.

    As we celebrate this National Foster Care Month take the time to recognize foster parents, family members, child welfare professionals, policy makers, volunteers, advocates, educators, and other members of the community who work to make a difference in the lives of children and youth in foster care.

    Please visit the links below for more information on National Foster Care Month and Fostering Youth Transitions.

    National Foster Care Month (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

    National Foster Care Month 2024 Children’s Bureau Message

    Fostering Youth Transitions 2023 (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

    For more information on foster care statistics, how to foster and adopt in North Carolina, and other foster care resources, please visit the tab for the WS/FCS Foster Care Point of Contact located on School Social Work webpage Click here.