May is Foster Care Awareness Month

May is Foster Care Awareness Month

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. Click here to watch NAYA Foster Care Support Specialist Daryle Conquering Bear discuss the impact that NAYA’s support programs can make on the lives of our young clients.

Currently, there are over 430,000 youth in foster care. Statistics show that Native American children are far more likely to be removed from their homes at first contact with child welfare agencies than White children in the same circumstances; and once removed, they are less likely to be reunited with their families. Experts point to longstanding systemic bias and the continued problem of case workers confusing poverty for neglect as some reasons for these troubling trends.

There is much that we can do to support Indigenous youth in the foster care system. There is a critical shortage of Native American foster homes where youth can be placed. For those who cannot commit to becoming foster parents but who want to help, becoming “respite providers” who give foster parents short breaks by watching youth temporarily are also needed.

Any time a youth needs to be placed outside the home, it is traumatizing. Being placed within another Native American home—and therefore staying close to culture and community—can make this trauma less severe. Therefore, NAYA strongly encourages families to consider opening their hearts and home to Native youth if possible. Learn more about becoming a foster parent and respite care provider by emailing our Foster Care Services Department.

Supporting NAYA is another way to help Native foster youth, as our program provides direct services to up to 85% of all local Indigenous youth in foster care at any given time.

NAYA’s Foster Care Services Department assists youth and families who are involved with state or tribal foster care systems. Staff offer services to youth from birth to age 24 as well as their families, providing consistent culturally appropriate individual- and family-based support services.

Designed to help families across a continuum, the Foster Care Services Program includes:

Foster Care Support provides one-on-one and group support to youth and families, and includes Sibling Night and Positive Indian Parenting classes.

Pathways to Adulthood Independent Living Program helps older youth prepare for the transition out of foster care.

KEEP is a dynamic support group for foster families to help them meet the specific needs of Native foster youth.

Parenting in 2 Worlds is a family-preservation program, offering classes and supports to help keep families intact and prevent removal.

Throughout May, NAYA will be sharing information on the state of foster care both nationally and within Indian Country specifically. Please follow us on Facebook to stay a part of this vital conversation.