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North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages North Dakotans to recognize the resiliency and perseverance of children involved in the state’s foster care system and those who have shown unwavering dedication and support of the child welfare system in observance of North Dakota’s Children’s Foster Care Month and the National Foster Care Month this May.

On any given day, North Dakota has 1,250 children in foster care, with 850 licensed foster care providers and numerous relative caregivers opening their homes to help children in need of stability and support until reunification or other planned permanent options can occur.

Everyone engaged in the child welfare system plays an essential role in ensuring the safety, permanency and physical and mental well-being of children in care. This includes relatives, foster care providers, custodial agencies, juvenile court, child welfare professionals, community service providers and other partners who all work collaboratively as a team to provide services and support to families so they can stay together or be reunited as soon as possible.

“Foster care serves as a temporary safety service for children while strengthening supports and opportunities for the families,” HHS Children and Family Services Director Cory Pedersen said. “May is a time to recognize all of those involved in the child welfare system. This year’s national theme of engaging young people is both timely and important. Children have the right to be involved in their case plan, and we believe strongly that this is necessary to build a solid foundation and provide the best path possible.”

This year’s theme for National Foster Care Month, “Engaging Youth. Building Supports. Strengthening Opportunities.” raises awareness about the important role that members from all parts of child welfare are responsible for when it comes to helping youth leave care with strengthened relationships, holistic supports and opportunities. The theme also emphasizes the importance of involving young people early and throughout their time in foster care to help improve their experience while in care and improve long-term outcomes.

The national theme, which aligns with HHS Children and Family Services’ mission of “Safe Children-Strong Families” encourages young people to be part of their case plan, while encouraging agencies to ensure that support and services are readily available to meet the needs of children.

Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a licensed foster care provider are encouraged to contact (833) FST-HOME or (833) 378-4663. For information about how a licensed provider can offer respite care or emergency shelter care, contact the Children and Family Services Licensing Unit at (701) 328-2322 or cfslicensing@nd.gov.

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