As National Foster Care Month, May 2020, comes to a close, we look ahead to what comes next for children, youth, families, and the child welfare workforce. During these unprecedented times, we acknowledge everyone whose lives have been impacted by family foster care programs and services because of historical policy, program, and practice achievements.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the health and well-being of the children in the child welfare system and their families, but also on this nation. Despite the tragedies we have faced throughout the pandemic, we must take time to celebrate and recognize the efforts and supports that have played a role in enhancing the lives of over 437,000 children and youth in foster care.

This year’s theme for National Foster Care Month is “Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents.” As a closeout to National Foster Care Month, CWLA would like to recognize some of the support services and partnerships that make it possible to protect children and youth while strengthening families and communities.

We thank the child welfare agencies and courts that used federal, state, and private resources to make significant efforts to keep children and parents together using community resources for substance use and mental health services. Additionally, we recognize the collaboration with university schools of social work and other disciplines to graduate, train, and retain child welfare staff with expertise in working with families who have experienced trauma.

We thank foster, adoptive, and kinship parents who had the ability, resources, and willingness to bring infants, children, and young people who have experienced physical and emotional trauma into their families and provide round-the-clock protecting and nurturing. Also, we appreciate these caregivers for encouraging positive relationships between children and their birth families and for their work as members of a professional team.

We thank the children and young adults directly impacted by the child welfare system and the future leaders of this world for their tireless efforts and energy. No one knows more about the pitfalls of our nation’s child welfare system than those who grew up in it. To the current and former foster youth advocates and leaders: We salute you for pushing reform forward and ensuring that other children and families involved in the system have favorable outcomes.

And finally, we thank the elected and appointed officials for their leadership and support in advancing best practices and policies for children and families on a local, state, and federal level. As the groups mentioned above continue to address the issues and concerns on the front lines, we recognize you for improving regulations, advancing policies, and increasing funding for the foster care system.

CWLA’s National Blueprint for Excellence in Child Welfare, Standards of Excellence: Raising the Bar for Children, Families, and Communities recognizes that while the child welfare system has a distinct set of responsibilities to care for children identified as at risk of abuse and neglect, knowledge and resources must be leveraged from families, communities, and other systems. This is essential to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and families.

We celebrate all of you for ensuring that communities are a safe, nurturing place for children and their families. We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve the best possible quality of life for children and families.