Foster care is a labor of love

This May, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) recognizes National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care feel safe, loved and find permanent homes.

According to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), more than half of the children in foster care are fostered by relatives, also known as kinship care. Imagine grandparents on fixed incomes. Or aunts and uncles already raising children of their own. They selflessly take on extra responsibilities to ensure the well-being of their kin. Relative foster parents offer a familiar and nurturing environment.

“When a safe, appropriate relative or family connection is available to care for children entering care, that is our first choice,” explained LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand. “They preserve familial bonds that are important to a child's sense of identity and belonging. But there are times when family isn’t an option, and that’s when licensed foster families are needed.”

Licensed foster parents step up to care for children whom they have no connections to. They offer children unconditional love and help them to work through the trauma of being separated from their birth parents. At the same time, foster parents also need to support the children’s parents in their efforts to have them return home. People who have a heart for fostering and are able to assume its responsibilities are always fewer than the children who need them.

Last year, LCFS, one of the largest community-based foster care providers in Illinois, cared for more than 2,100 foster children with the help of dedicated relative and licensed foster families. LCFS is committed to supporting all the foster parents it works with and helping them to advocate for the needs of the children in their care while navigating the complex foster care system. For everyone involved, it is a labor of love, too often undertaken without recognition.

“National Foster Care Month is not only a time for recognition, but also a call to action,” said Bertrand. “We strive to inspire individuals in our communities to step forward and make a difference in the lives of children and families.”

LCFS is calling on the community to join in this important cause. Whether it is through fostering, volunteering, advocating or donating, there are numerous ways to make a significant impact. LCFS believes that together, we can create a brighter future for all children and youth in foster care.

To learn more about how you can make a difference, or how to become a foster parent, visit

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