Friday, May 1, 2009

The Gift of a Mother’s Love

This May we celebrate Mother's Day and also observe National Foster Care Month. For many of the 513,000 American youth in foster care, it might well be a foster or adoptive parent, a grandmother, an aunt, an older sister, or another female relative whom they wish to thank and honor for raising them to be all they can be.

With more than 12 million alumni of foster care in this country, there are countless stories of inspirational women who have come forward to be "Mom" to a child in need.

If nothing changes in the United States by the year 2020, the following scenarios are expected to play out:
  • Nearly 14 million confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect will be reported.
  • 22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthday.
  • More than 9 million children will experience the foster care system.
  • More than 300,000 children will “age out” of our foster care system, in poor health and ill-prepared for success in higher education, technical college, or the workforce.
  • 99,000 former foster youth, who aged out of the system, can expect to experience homelessness.

Here’s Tammy’s story. “I felt from a very young age I was called to be a foster mom. I believe my gift is the ability to nurture and love children.” No group of children is in more need of care then foster kids. Four years ago, Tammy and her husband made the decision to become foster parents. They contacted Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois* who helped them through the licensing process. “We were referred to LCFS by another foster mother in our community. The staff has always been there to offer me encouragement and listen to my concerns.”

Tammy is now a foster mother to four children ages 6 months to 10 years old, in addition to her four biological children. She sees the most important aspect of being a foster mom as giving a child a safe place to live and helping him realize his full potential. “These kids have so many gifts, but they need someone to take the time to recognize them and push them to succeed. Being a foster mom is the most amazing thing I have ever done.”

Being a foster mother is not an easy calling. Most children are in foster care because their own families are in crisis and unable to provide for their essential well-being. Like all young people, youth in foster care deserve and benefit from enduring, positive relationships with caring adults. The rewards of being a foster parent are in knowing you helped keep a child safe, taught a child to believe in himself, or just showed that someone cared.

Over the past two years, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, with the support of the Lerner Family Foundation and, most recently, a gift from the Christopher Family Foundation has significantly increased its capacity to recruit foster parents. As a direct result of the initiative, they have raised awareness, initiated prospective home referrals, licensed and developed homes and, ultimately, placed more children with families. In fact, over the past two fiscal years LCFS has licensed an additional 46 foster homes!

Still, much more help is needed. Now is the time to get involved. Please join LCFS in your State to address the needs of these children. You can help our nation’s most vulnerable children realize their full potential by considering the following items:

  • Become a foster parent: for more information see or call 800-363-LCFS.
  • Learn the facts about foster care at
  • Make a financial contribution to support the personal enrichment or education of a young person in foster care.
  • Wear a Blue Ribbon during May in support of National Foster Care Month.
    Support LCFS activities, such as the Christmas Drive, Back-to-School Drive, Wish List needs, etc.

Wherever it operates, LCFS is striving to provide safe and loving homes to as many foster children as possible, but your support is needed. Help us honor women like Tammy who answer the call to care for our most vulnerable youth, or consider whether you might be able to make room in your home for one of the thousands of children who are still waiting to receive the powerful gift of a mother’s love.

In Illinois, to inquire about other ways you might be able to support foster mothers and the children they care for, please contact Phillip L. Jiménez, LCFS director of development at or 708-488-5555.

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