May is a time to celebrate foster parents and families

The Homepage, published by Hazelwood Initiative

By TRAC Services for Families

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the tremendous need for foster parents throughout the country. 

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TRAC Services for Families helps foster kids and families stay on a positive path through a range of supportive services.Photo by Ja-Neen Jones

Every year more than 25,000 youth age out of the child welfare system with no permanent connections to a family. Foster parents are critical in giving youth the healthy relationships necessary for emotional, mental and developmental attachment they need. 

A disproportionate number of children of color are in foster care. Those children need foster families of color, or culturally humble foster parents of other cultures, to care for them.

Ja-Neen Jones is the Director of Adoption & Foster Care Services at TRAC Services for Families. She oversees TRAC’s Black Adoption Services and foster care department. 

There are not enough foster homes in Allegheny County to meet the specialized needs of youth in care, Ms. Jones said. TRAC Services for Families celebrates National Foster Care Month by raising the alarm. 

Allegheny County Children Youth and Families (CYF) made significant changes in 2021, according to Ms. Jones. They worked to improve their services, support, funding and programming for children and families connected to the child welfare system. 

While the need for individuals to foster children of all ages is significant, the lack of families willing to foster youth in the following groups is critical. 

  • Teens ages 12 to 21 and their siblings
  • African American children
  • LGBTQ+ youth in need of affirming families
  • Youth with physical, developmental, mental and/or emotional conditions and diagnosis in need of therapeutic foster homes

Foster homes for short & long term, emergency and respite resources are also critically needed. 

During National Foster Care Month, TRAC draws on longstanding connections with churches, community groups and businesses to recruit families willing to help a child move through a difficult stage. Targeted recruiting is essential for youth to remain in their communities and schools, and decrease the trauma from being removed from their family because of abuse, neglect, parent substance abuse or parent/child conflict.

TRAC is a proud partner of the Dave Thomas Foundation Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, The North American Council for Adoptable Children. To find out how to become a foster parent, or if you are a current foster or adoptive family and need supportive services, call (412) 471-8722 or visit www.tracpgh.org. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @tracpgh.

Homepage publisher, Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., is a community development corporation and a registered community organization. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. does not profit by or receive compensation from contributors or organizations for mentions or links in Homepage articles.

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The Homepage is a print newspaper delivered monthly to households in Greater Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, New Homestead, Lincoln Place and The Run. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., a community-based nonprofit, publishes The Homepage through a grant from the City of Pittsburgh and advertising revenue from local businesses and organizations. The mission of Hazelwood Initiative, as a community-based development corporation, is to build a stronger Hazelwood through inclusive community development. Sonya Tilghman, Executive Director of Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. (she/her) Juliet Martinez, Managing Editor of The Homepage (they/them) Sarah Kanar, Layout and Design of The Homepage(she/her)

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