By Meagan Sprague, Resource Family Program Manager

Every year, throughout the month of May we celebrate National Foster Care Month. Currently, in the state of Maine, there are roughly 2,526 children in state custody. When a child cannot be kept safely in their own home, they are moved to a foster home or to live with a relative. This year’s theme for National Foster Care Month is: “Engaging Youth. Building Supports. Strengthening Opportunities.”

Foster Care is not an easy job for all involved. It comes with many emotions, behavioral and educational needs, sleepless nights, worry, etc. But it also comes with joy, love, permanency, and safety for a child. When the right support and effective communication are in place, it is so worth it. As May approaches, let’s take the time to reflect and bring awareness to foster care. Let’s focus on the importance of everyone involved and have empathy for all those dedicating their time and hearts to youth in the child welfare system. Empathy for the child, empathy for the caseworkers, empathy for the birth parents, and empathy for the extended family.

I grew up in a family where kids in foster care joined our home. Some of those children reunified with their birth parents or relatives; which is the main goal, while two remained in our home, later to be adopted. As a sibling to two youth adopted from the foster care system, this experience changed my life. I have seen firsthand the challenges of foster care, as well as the joys and changes someone can make in a child’s life. This experience is what brought me to Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, Inc. & The Kinship Program(AFFM). My experience is just one of the many ways foster care touches everyday lives. The uniqueness of AFFM is all staff have lived experience with the child welfare system, whether it be through being foster, adoptive, or kinship caregivers, growing up in the foster care system, or like my story, being siblings of youth within the system.

This May and beyond, let us thank those families who are providing foster care, bringing awareness to the youth currently in state custody, those who have aged out of care, the professionals that support youth and families, and the kinship families that step up every day.

 

This May and beyond, let us thank those families who are providing foster care, bringing awareness to the youth currently in state custody, those who have aged out of care, the professionals that support youth and families, and the kinship families that step up every day.

There is always a need for foster homes. If you are interested in becoming a licensed foster home, please reach out to A Family for ME (https://afamilyformemaine.org/)

If you are providing foster care, AFFM is here to support you!

Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, Inc. & The Kinship Program has full-time staff members who have both personal and professional experience with being a foster parent. From providing pre-service training and supporting families as they become licensed, to receiving their first placement, and helping families to be supportive team members of the reunification process, AFFM’s team is here to support foster families. AFFM’s Resource Family Specialists can provide non-judgmental peer support to families who are experiencing the joys and successes of being a foster family. Resource Family Specialists can help families with immediate tangible needs along with navigational support as families try to find their way through a variety of systems. AFFM staff can also provide referrals to other community support who can provide additional resources and services that will enhance their chances for success.

The Kinship Program has knowledgeable and empathetic staff. They can help connect kinship families with a variety of supports and services. AFFM’s Kinship Specialists are certified Grandfamily Leaders and can assist families in navigating an array of systems that can often be difficult to manage when trying to provide day-to-day care for the children in their homes and their divided loyalties.

Thank you to all the families and professionals who open their hearts and homes to a child in need. You are appreciated!

Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, Inc. & The Kinship Program (AFFM), is a nonprofit organization offering support services statewide to adoptive, foster, and kinship families. For more information about AFFM visit www.affm.net or call 207-827-2331.