On May 10, 1988, former President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation to observe the first National Foster Care Month. The proclamation followed the Senate’s passage of a resolution establishing this designation. This May is once again National Foster Care Month, an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of foster care in providing opportunities to succeed for thousands of American children.
In that first National Foster Care Month Proclamation, Reagan recognized, “The family has the primary responsibility for nurturing children, transmitting our culture, and building the character traits that make for healthy adults and good citizens. Upon the strength of the family rests the future of our Nation. For a variety of reasons, however, some parents are unable to provide a minimally acceptable level of care for their children, and temporary or permanent alternative placement is necessary.”
Reagan further described the purposes of National Foster Care Month as an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the pressures facing families today and on the need for increased efforts to ensure that children, including those who have been abandoned or abused, have the opportunity to live in healthy, loving homes.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports there are more than 440,000 children and youth in foster care. HHS provides resources at www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/, including publications, websites, databases and online learning tools for improving child welfare practices and supporting the National Foster Care Month 2019 theme of foster care being a support to families rather than a substitute for birth parents.
HHS’s website also contains first-hand accounts from youth, families and professionals in communities across our nation about hope found among heartbreak and lives reclaimed. A now mother, wife, author and nonprofit founder who entered the foster-care system at 2 years old shared, “I was born to a woman whose entire life had been filled with terrible pain, child abuse, and trauma from a young age. She had not found her peace before conceiving me and wasn’t ready to give me what she’d never had the pleasure of receiving herself — a good and loving home.” I commend the many young people who dig deep inside themselves to find the resolve necessary to triumph over devastating abuse and setbacks. And, thank you to the foster families who provide safe, stable and supportive homes for children in foster care.
Congress must continually assess whether and what changes are needed to provide policies that assist in rearing healthy, educated children who will contribute to the fabric of our society. For example, while streamlining the federal tax code in the 2017 tax reform law, Congress recognized the importance of retaining a strong Adoption Tax Credit. This credit is meant to help offset the costs of adopting a child. This is one step to try to help ease the path for permanent placement of children in loving and safe homes.
I am co-sponsoring a resolution supporting the designation of National Foster Care Month, raising awareness about the challenges of children in the foster-care system, and encouraging Congress to implement policy to improve the lives of children in the foster-care system. The resolution includes provisions confirming all children deserve a safe, loving, and permanent home and the primary goal of the foster-care system is to ensure the safety and well-being of children while working to provide a safe, loving and permanent home for each child. I look forward to continuing to support measures to help ensure the health and welfare of Idaho’s children.
Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1999. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Independent-Enterprise.