May is Foster Care Awareness Month

I make no secret about the part that I grew up in Foster Care. I have been to 2 group homes and one family between the ages of 2 and 16 – with different degrees of emotional trauma that I experienced mostly in the foster family but also outside of it from family and peers.

Around the age of 8, after an abusive verbal bashing by my foster mother, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be like my parents – that in fact, I would be successful. It’s been an incredibly challenging road to not be part of the statistic that continues the cycle, fighting the stigma and my own inner demons.

I graduated high-school, went to college to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, wrote 5 books and am self-employed.

It is my adverse upbringing that has led me down the path of earning my degree in Mental Health Counseling and working with family at risk before transitioning into entrepreneurship.

Strengthening families and focusing on their well-being is the key to building strong communities. Whether it’s promoting a collaborative relationship between birth parents and foster caregivers (what is a foster parent?) or providing parents with the right combination of supportive services to enable reunification, keeping families together is the primary goal in a successful child welfare system.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I want to share some statistic with you:

According to national statistics provided by Arrow, 40 to 50 percent of those children will never complete high school. Sixty-six percent of them will be homeless, go to jail or die within one year of leaving the foster care system at 18.

More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year. After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless. Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.

The numbers are even worse at the college level. Only 2.5 percent of children who grow up in foster care graduate from a four-year college while fewer than 2 percent of youth formerly in foster care complete a bachelor’s degree before the age of 25, compared with 24 percent of the general population.

I wanted to highlight this because everything I achieved is against the odds and not part of the norm. There have been times where people asked me how I overcome the challenges – and it’s a strong mindset and the utmost belief in myself even during those dark days when I didn’t know if I could go on any longer.

When I became a mom for the first time, I remembered that promise I made to myself and about being a success. At even with everything I’ve achieved, being a mother and raising my children – that is my biggest success.

But it’s so much more because raising awareness is key so that more children in the foster care system can achieve their own success and not become a statistic.

And with may is Foster Care Awareness month it’s time to recognize that foster care must act as a support system for families, not a substitute for parents. Developing partnerships between local agencies, community organizations, and individuals within a family’s network is key to building a supportive foundation that supports family reunification and preservation.

Visit the National Foster Care Month website to find resources about the following:

The website also provides tools to support engagement in the local community and inspiring real-life stories from families with foster care experience.

About the author

Petra Monaco is an artist, author, and professional problem solver for creatives, rebels, and multi-passionates.

She is here to help you remove frustration from your life and achieve your creative dreams with more ease and confidence.

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