SOS Illinois Revisits the History of National Foster Care Month

In the United State, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established the Children’s Bureau 106 years ago. Since then, the bureau has worked to assist children and youth in foster care; engage youth in decisions that affect their lives; and support Foster Parents, kinship caregivers, child welfare professionals, and others who help these children.

As we look to help raise awareness for children in foster care, we share a brief history of National Foster Care Awareness Month:

  • Before the creation of the Children’s Bureau in 1912, child welfare and foster care were mainly in the hands of private and religious organizations.
  • In 1919, the Children’s Bureau published Minimum Standards of Child Welfare, which affirmed the importance of keeping children in their own homes whenever possible and, when that was impossible, providing a “home life” with foster families.
  • In 1923, the Children’s Bureau published Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children, an acknowledgment of the growing preference for foster family care over institutional care.
  • During World War II, when more than 8,000 children were evacuated from Europe to the United States, the Children’s Bureau oversaw their temporary placement in U.S. foster homes.
  • The Children’s Bureau published “The Rights of Foster Parents” in the May 1970 issue of its journal Children. That same year, the Children’s Bureau sponsored the National Conference of Foster Parents.
  • In 1972, the Children’s Bureau sponsored—and President Nixon proclaimed—National Action for Foster Children Week to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care and recruit more foster parents. The following year, Children published “The Bill of Rights for Foster Children.”
  • In 1988, President Reagan issued the first Presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month.

In support of these efforts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families: Office of Regional Operations, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, and over 20 National Foster Care Partners have created a 2019 Campaign Resource Guide: Foster Care as a Support to Families: Not a Substitute for Parents. The resource guide is available online at

Additionally, each year since 1988, the U.S. President makes a formal announcement through a Presidential proclamation to support National Foster Care Awareness Month. The White House acknowledges the profound contributions of the individuals and organizations supporting foster and kinship caregivers, and those of the community providers and professionals who are helping children in foster care find safe and stable families. All are invited to observe this month by taking time to help children and youth in foster care, and to recognize the commitment of those who touch their lives, particularly celebrating their foster parents and other caregivers.

SOS Illinois Raises Awareness for Children in Foster Care Today

During Foster Care Awareness month, and throughout the year, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Illinois a better place for children in foster care. By acknowledging Foster Parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections; we change the narrative of the child welfare system. SOS Illinois is proud to celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in the lives of children in care.

This year, help share the SOS Illinois mission with your co-workers, friends, family, and the Chicago community in a number of different ways. Join the conversation to support the children at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois—and all children in foster care. Get your copy of our 2019 Brand Ambassador Tool Kit that includes ten different opportunities to get involved, key dates, and plenty of information to share with your networks. These ten opportunities offer different levels of time commitment, which allows you to support in a way that works with your schedule.

Celebrate Children and Youth All Year Long

In addition to National Foster Care Month in May, SOS Illinois supports two other special initiative months: National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April and National Adoption Month in November. At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, we are committed to providing safe, stable, loving homes. We do this by keeping brothers and sisters together in an individual home in the care of a full-time, professional Foster Parent. In doing so, we lay the foundation for rebuilding trust, confidence, and hope for each child in our care. We invite you to support our programs and services. You can donate here to help us continue strengthening families and transforming lives. Together, we are building the future of foster care.