Foster care organizations aim to raise awareness in May

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MOBERLY - Brett Bell is a 19-year-old freshman at Moberly Area Community College. He likes to write, read his Bible, and enjoys working with kids. He has aspirations of someday becoming an elementary school teacher. 

He is also one of the more than 13,000 children in Missouri's foster care system. 

Bell said, although he didn't know what to expect when he first entered the system, he ultimately found it to be a blessing for him.

"When I first got into foster care it wasn't good for the simple fact that I didn't know what was going on. I just, you know, I was in a bad situation. But now looking back, it's helped me become a better person," Bell said. 

Bell is willing to share his story, but sometimes foster children and those who work with them go unrecognized.

That's why in 1988, President Ronald Reagan started National Foster Care Month. 

Held in the May, it is designed to bring awareness to foster children, foster families, and those who work with them. 

Organizations in Missouri will share stories and host events through out the month, including the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, headquartered in Jefferson City. The not-for-profit agency works to support, educate, and advocate for foster, adoptive, and kinship children and families in Mid-Missouri. 

CMFCAA Executive Director DeAnna Alonso said foster children are everyone's children, and that they need to be recognized and cared for no matter what.

"They're Missouri's kids. They're your and I's kids," he said. "What we need to do is make sure that they're taken care of all the way through. Until they are old enough and capable enough to take care of their self." 

It's a sentiment that Bell agrees with. 

"I don't think that it's viewed as something good because of like, you know, the bad apples out of the bunch. But I definitely feel like it's a positive thing, like I feel like you can make it positive." 

Upon completing his time at MACC, Bell plans on transferring to Lincoln University to continue his education.