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Foster families being honored

May is recognized across the country as National Foster Care Month, a time to honor America's foster families. Foster parents play a critical role in the treatment and development of disadvantaged youth through their nurturing and mentoring.

Nationally, there are more than half a million children and youth in the United States foster care system. This is a 90 percent increase in children placed in foster care since 1987, while the number of foster homes has declined.

More foster homes are desperately needed. National Foster Care month draws attention to the importance in our communities of the need for foster parenting. Foster families provide a primary source of love, identity, self-esteem and support which is the very foundation of our communities and families. The West Virginia Youth Advocate Program (WVYAP) acknowledges all foster parents for the love, care, generosity and dedication they offer to the foster children of West Virginia. Foster parents are the glue that connects youth to the community, impacts young lives forever and offers hope for a successful future.

They also preserve the child's future so it can be viewed as a present challenge and not dwell on the past. Foster parents promote trust between themselves and the children in their homes. This provides a foundation for further development while allowing the child to gain competence with the endeavors they take.

The West Virginia Youth Advocate Program is an affiliate of the National Youth Advocate Program that also operates Youth Advocate Programs in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio and South Carolina, as well as the Youth Advocate International Program located in Washington, D.C. The West Virginia Youth Advocate Program is a private, non-profit child-placing agency providing community-based services to abused, neglected and disadvantaged children and families of West Virginia.

West Virginia office sites include Charleston, Wheeling, Martinsburg, Parkersburg and Fairmont. For information about foster parenting or the West Virginia Youth Advocate Program, please call WVYAP at 1-800-836-9894.

Steven Fairley, MSW, LGSW

Regional Director

West Virginia

Youth Advocate Program

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