May is Foster Care Awareness Month. Many Americans are unaware that nearly 500,000 youth are currently living in foster care and that 75 percent of them are between the ages of 12-21 years old. Each year about 300,000 youth age out of the foster care system nationally, most without any family support and facing a higher probability of unemployment or underemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and even incarceration than their peers who are not in foster care. At this graduation time for many Howard County parents, can you imagine your child beginning this new phase of his/her life without any help from you?

Two years ago, a small group of Howard County citizens, most of whom were already knowledgeable about foster care issues, formed Fostering Futures — Howard County. We are a community network using the Internet to expand awareness of the needs of the 60 local foster care youth, especially those exiting foster care. Collaborating with the Howard County Department of Social Services (HCDSS) and under the auspices of Voices for Children, Howard County's Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, Fostering Futures sends bimonthly email requests to those who have voluntarily offered to be contacted. These requests reflect the needs of the youth as reported by their Social Workers and CASA volunteers. For example, several youth moving into apartments needed furniture and household furnishings, and Fostering Futures quickly responded. When another youth needed a vehicle to continue her education at a culinary school, an auto body shop owner generously donated a refurbished car.

We invite you to join the Fostering Futures network, by adding your name to our email list at http://www.voicesforchildren.org and clicking on the Fostering Futures link or by inviting a volunteer to speak to your civic or service organization.

Christopher J. McCabe, Chair, Board of Advisors


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Fostering Futures — Howard County