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Celebrating National Foster Care Month

I woke up thinking about Little Bit this morning. Little Bit, the now 5-year-old who was entrusted in my daughter and son-in-law’s care for just under a year while she and her two siblings experienced foster care. During that time, she and her siblings gifted me with the name BB, and welcomed me into their lives.

 This morning Little Bit was on my mind, specifically the thing she used to do sometimes when she stayed with us. Her room was the one right off the kitchen with a queen size bed in it. At bedtime, I would tuck her into bed, and when I would check on her before I went to bed, I would find her on the floor, with her little space all made up like a bed with her favorite blanket.

 The first time it happened, I carefully picked her up, placed her back in bed and covered her up with her favorite blanket only to find her back on the floor in her makeshift bed the next morning.

 The next day we bought a little air mattress for her spot, and helped her make up her bed before it was time for sleep. I learned quickly that this was her safe place. When faced with new surroundings or anxiety she moves to the floor. Last November, Little Bit and her siblings were adopted into a forever family. During the transition from foster home to forever home, Little Bit and her siblings did not have to lose us. We still keep in touch.

 A few months ago, her mom shared with me she still finds Little Bit on the floor from time to time, in her makeshift bed, with her favorite blanket. Her mom says she knows when that happens she needs to pay close attention to what's going on in her world. What we have appreciated is Little Bit’s process of grounding. When she feels anxious, she goes to the place she feels most comfortable. There is a beautiful resiliency in Little Bit, and a beautiful love from her attentive parents who continue to provide space and a sense of security for her.

 May is National Foster Care Month. Last year more than 500 children in our community experienced foster care because of abuse or neglect. Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet need for children and teens experiencing foster care, with up to 80% experiencing significant mental health needs due to the complex traumas of separation from family and culture of origin. Positive mental and behavioral health for children and youth requires the presence of at least one nurturing, responsive caregiver who is stable in the child’s or youth’s life over time. Every kid is one important adult away from being a success. I believe this with all my heart.

 I'm not sure why Little Bit and this picture is so close to my heart today. Maybe I am just missing her. Maybe part of me is hoping the kids for whom we advocate connect with their CASA volunteer, a foster parent, a mentor, and find at least one important consistent person in their lives. Maybe part of me is hoping the kids we work with find their safe places, too.