May is National Foster Care Month

submitted by Marion County Children Services
Every May across our nation, the light shines on the plight of children and youth in foster care.  This year, despite a marked decrease in the total number of children in foster care – from more than a half million in 2007 nationwide to 463,000 at the end of 2008 – serious issues remain, especially for older youth in care.

A recent study revealed that youth who emancipate and exits the foster care system, experience many hardships.

  • more than one in five will become homeless after age 18
  • only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19 (compared to 87 percent nationally),
  • fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28 percent nationally, and
  • one in four will be incarcerated within two years of leaving the system.

Over the last decade, the number of these young people who “age out” of foster care has risen steadily.  On their own, without the safety net of a family or the education they need to compete in the workplace, these young adults must navigate a weakened economy offering fewer jobs and less support for vital services such as housing.

There are an estimated 12 million foster care alumni in the US representing all walks of live.  Behind this statistic are countless stories of children who end up being thriving adults while other struggle with life’s challenges all alone.  Today's young adults take far longer to reach economic and social maturity than those five or six decades ago, taking longer to leave home, attain economic independence, marry, and form families of their own.

Marion County currently has 35 foster homes who open their hearts to children and young adults.  Every child in foster care benefits from a meaningful connection to a caring adult who becomes a supportive and lasting presence in his or her life.  Success stories come about when someone takes the time to offer comfort, support, advice or simply share a milestone moment with a child is enduring a difficult family situation.

Marion County Children Services joins in with a national effort to help Change a Lifetime for a child or youth in foster care.  The members of the Marion community can assist in one or more of the following ways:

  • Educate federal and state policy leaders on the issues facing children families.
  • Support legislation that assists families to be strong.
  • Serve as a foster parent, relative caregiver, mentor, advocate, or volunteer,
  • Encourage employers/employees to volunteer their time as mentors, and role models for foster youth.

Now is the time to get involved.  No matter how much time you have to give, you have the power to offer something positive that will Change a Lifetime for a young person in foster care.

For more information, contact Marion County Children Services at 740-389-2317 or visit our website at

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