Written by Congressman Markwayne Mullin
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and as adoptive parents of three, Christie and I are committed to ensuring every child has a safe, supportive, and forever family.
With more than 400,000 young people in the foster care system across the country, we need to make sure the system in place is effective and functions properly. In Oklahoma alone, there are 7,789 children in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Service, with a need for 898 foster families. These kids, and the families who foster them, need our help and support.
One common theme we often hear about is making sure foster youth who age out of the system have the resources they need to successfully transition into adulthood. The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program helps them with education, employment, financial management, housing, and emotional support. I will continue to fight for adequate funding for this program which helps so many foster youth achieve self-sufficiency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also taken a toll on foster youth across the country. Last week, I was able to join a virtual town hall with current and former foster youth to hear about what issues they are facing in their communities. From unemployment to homelessness and a lack of healthcare, these older youth are at-risk for suffering from difficult consequences caused by the pandemic. That’s why I introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 6766, earlier this year which would target support for these youth so they don’t fall through the cracks during this crisis.
When it comes to caring for children, it really does take a village. This month, I encourage you to think about the children without a permanent home. Whether it is helping a to prepare a meal or being a support system for a family with foster children, we can all work together to help support those in foster care. If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, Oklahoma Fosters, a recruitment organization which partners with OKDHS, can help you.
Want to stay up-to-date on what I’m doing in Oklahoma and Washington on your behalf? Sign up for my newsletter by visiting Mullin.house.gov/newslettersignup.