Foster care, at its core, is a path to permanency for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Most often, foster care offers children safety and stability while their biological parents heal themselves and learn the skills necessary to be a good parent. Sometimes, foster care is part of the journey to placement in an adoptive home.

There are more than 13,200 children in Arizona’s foster care, according to a recent report by the Department of Child Safety. More than 1,500 of those children are seeking an adoptive home.

“Foster care, I think, requires people who are willing to commit to the long haul,“ says Alice Daer, who first got involved in the foster care system as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) and later fostered and adopted a 5-year-old girl.

“It’s a very big deal for her to know that permanency will be there for her,“ says Daer.

Raising awareness of the need for permanency for children is one reason May is National Foster Care Month.

“It’s also a time to recognize the commitment and caring of foster parents,“ says Ron Adelson, CEO of Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK), which facilitated the adoption of 238 children in foster care in 2018 and more 4,500 children in foster care since its founding in 1988.

Research shows that relationships matter. The nationwide cost of children aging out of the foster care system without the family relationships developed in a foster home or adoptive home is a staggering $8 billion a year – the tally for higher rates of homelessness, incarceration and unemployment, and lower rates of high school graduation.

For more information on children eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602-930-4900, or visit www.aask-az.org.

Watch the stories of children in foster care waiting on forever families each week on the Wednesday’s Child between 5-6 a.m. on Today in AZ. You can also view previously aired stories at www.aask-az.org.