Foster Parents Step Up to Help Children and Families but More Support is Needed
- May 01, 2021
May is National Foster Care Month. With over 21,000 children in Illinois in need of support, it is the perfect time to acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had on too many families, recognize that everyone can play a part in enhancing the lives of children in foster care and their families, and ask more people to consider fostering.
In just the past year, Illinois has seen significant growth both in the number of children within the foster care system and in the increased need for more foster parents. The Department of Children and Family Services of Illinois anticipates the 21,000 number will continue to rise well after the pandemic subsides as it will take time for people to recover financially.
“I’ve learned that poverty isn’t a reason for a person not to have their children,” explains Robyn, a foster mom with Lutheran Child and Services of Illinois (LCFS of Illinois). “The moms I’ve worked with all have similar situations, either broken or no support systems. I’ve realized that whatever’s happening with the parents and whether or not they will ever get their children back or not, doesn’t matter. They still love them.”
Foster parents are selfless, generous, thoughtful people who make a difference in the lives of many. Even during a pandemic. “Foster parents have been unsung heroes during the pandemic,” said LCFS of Illinois President and CEO Mike Bertrand. “Fostering isn’t easy, but it is tremendously rewarding. While we, at LCFS of Illinois, give thanks for them every day, we also ask for more people to step up and foster.”
Robyn has been a single foster parent since 2017 and has cared for approximately ten children during that time. As a foster parent, she offers the children in her care unconditional love and takes on the difficulties, the responsibilities and the joys that come with parenting. While attending to all of this, she also supports connections with children’s families which have been critical in facilitating reunification.
“People shouldn’t look at foster care like it’s saving children,” said Robyn. “It’s about helping families.”
LCFS of Illinois stands alongside its foster parents to ensure they have the resources and support they need to care for the children temporarily placed in their homes.
“We have a very diverse group of foster parents at LCFS of Illinois, including married couples, single men and women, all races, ethnicities, religions and members of the LGBTQ+ community,” shared Bertrand. “But they all have one thing in common, a calling to help. Now with the rise in the number of children coming into care, we need more people to become foster parents and help children and families reach their full potential.”
Foster care is meant to be a support system for children and families. “If you’re going to foster, don’t go in because the children need to be rescued, go in it because the family needs some help,” said Robyn. “I tell all the moms of my foster children that this is a forever family and I’m always here for them. If I really care, that caring doesn’t stop just because they aren’t in my home.”
To learn more about becoming a foster parent or get started in the process, contact LCFS of Illinois at 1-800-363-LCFS (5237) or visit www.lcfs.org/foster.