During National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States, the focus is to celebrate, educate, and advocate for adoption. Adoption is not just for infants or young children, of course. It is something that is desperately needed for many older youth in the foster care system. Many of the older children and teens in need of adoption have been in the system for a while.

You do not have to be an adoptive or foster parent, or a child welfare professional, to inform others about the need for adoption of older children and teenagers. Community members can get involved in this very important mission.

Here are six ways that you can spread the word about adopting older children.

1. Utilize Facebook and other social media outlets to spread the word. Many groups such as AdoptUSKids, Adoption.com, and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption share profiles and links to information about older children and youth who need permanent homes. “Like” their pages on Facebook and share the profiles of kiddos needing a family.

2. Speak to your place of worship or employment about showcasing profiles of older children and teens in need of adoption. Perhaps, one of these places would be willing to host an informational meeting for local child welfare professionals to come in and speak about the need for adoption.

3. Learn the facts and statistics about the need. Knowledge is power! The more you know about the need for older child adoption, the more you are better able to communicate with others regarding what is going on with older children within the foster care system.

4. If you know a positive story about the adoption of an older child or teenager, share it. Far too often, we hear about negative experiences, but there are many positive ones that need to be told. If you have adopted an older child or teenager, share your story! It matters.

5. Consider volunteering for an organization that supports older youth in care, and share your experience with others. Once you get to know the kids, you will have first-hand information about who they are and about their situations in life.

6. Contact your local child welfare agencies and inquire about how you can help them spread the word regarding older children and teens in need of adoption. From these organizations, you can get specific information about what their needs are and how you can join in the movement to make others aware of the need for adoption of older kids.

The need for awareness of adoption of older children and teenagers should not just be a focus for the month of November, but for every month of the year. Youth who age out of the foster care system are at greater risk for impoverishment, criminal activity, human trafficking, and homelessness. These youths deserve the opportunity to have a soft place to land when they need it.

If you desire and can adopt, then go for it. If not, there are still lots of ways that you can help to make the difference in the life of a child.