Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Eliada celebrates National Foster Care Month and raises awareness about foster care

Every Child Deserves a Loving Home
Participate with Eliada during National Foster Care Month to bring awareness to the local community about Foster Care

There are nearly 300 children in Foster Care in Buncombe County. And in Henderson County there are nearly 150, in Macon nearly 50, in Haywood 110, and in Cherokee nearly 100. They can be any child you see or interact with, and they are no different than your own. Children in foster care go to your child's school and they are the kids in your neighborhood playing outside on a sunny day. Help Eliada encourage many citizens in our community to become involved in the lives of these youth, this May, for National Foster Care Month.
Foster care isn't just a regional phenomenon. According to the National Foster Care Coalition on any given day more than 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States. If all these children were brought together, that would make up a city larger in population than Miami, Pittsburg, New Orleans, or Cleveland. Over the course of a year nearly 700,000 children spend time in foster care in the United States. While 128,000 children are reunited with their families, 52,000 find loving homes through adoption and 36,000 live with a guardian or family members through kinship care, another 28,000 will age out of the foster care system because they became too old and another 1,500 will run away. Every year this cycle continues with another 254,000 entering care and replacing those who left.

The experience of foster care can take its toll with children and adolescents in the system experiencing PTSD at twice the rate of US war veterans. For youth who age out of care, ¼ are incarcerated within 2 years and only ½ will graduate from high school. The National Association of Social Workers reports that fewer than 3% of former foster youth will achieve a college degree, and over 25% will be homeless within three years of leaving care.
While these statistics are bleak, Eliada is achieving amazing things for the children and adolescents in its foster care program. Currently, Eliada serves 43 children from Western North Carolina. Their licensed foster homes span the region from McDowell County to Macon County. Fifteen of these children are in pre-adoptive placements and have found a permanent loving home and family. Eliada supports and guides families through the adoption process, and provides foster parents with 24/7 support including ongoing free monthly trainings. Eliada's consultants, clinicians, psychologists, nurses, teachers, and psychiatrist works together to support foster parents and children in care. And when children in foster care "age out" of the system, Eliada continues to support their journey through on-campus transitional living and vocational education, as well as a scholarship program.

According to one of Eliada's foster parents, "It is like bundling services, you can go on campus for a team meeting and then have the support of the professional staff and then your foster child can go over to the golf program, dirt bike program or ride the horses!"

For National Foster Care Month, Eliada wishes to recognize the dedicated families who help needy children every day. They encourage you to think of the children in care and the issues they face. Eliada will be placing two life size cutouts of children throughout Western North Carolina. They are naming these children Eli and Ada (as in Eli-ada) and they represent the boys and girls in this community without a permanent loving home to call their own. They'll be documenting Eli and Ada's travels across the region on facebook to bring awareness to foster care. If you see Eli and Ada in your neighborhood, become an ambassador for foster care children and take a picture and post it to Eliada's facebook wall, facebook.com/eliadahome. If you see a picture posted on facebook, please share, like and comment to show your support!
Here are more ways to get involved. There are so many ways to help even if you cannot foster or adopt yourself.
  • Become a Foster Parent. Contact Shawn Burleson to begin this conversation sburleson@eliada.org or 828-713-5423.
  • Thank a foster family in your community. Contact Eliada and they will send a thank you card to one of their caring foster families in your name sburleson@eliada.org or 828-713-5423.
  • Volunteer for Eliada's foster care program by providing an activity for foster children during Eliada's monthly parent trainings. Fill out a volunteer application at eliada.org/volunteer.
  • Host a suitcase drive, or collect backpacks, blankets, and pillows for children entering in care.
  • Help children create their life books! Donate scrapbook materials for children to use to track their life history and successes. Call Eliada to coordinate dropping off your donation 828-254-5356.
  • Donate gift cards and gas cards for foster families. Or make a cash donation to Eliada's foster care program at www.eliada.org.
  • Raise awareness about foster care by inviting Eliada to speak at your club, civic group, place of worship, or another group setting. Contact Kelly Shusko at kshusko@eliada.org about hosting a speaker.
  • Wear a light blue ribbon for National Foster Care Month and tell people what the ribbon represents!
Every child deserves a safe and loving environment to grow up in. Take action this May for National Foster Care Month.

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