5 Ways that You Can Support Your Foster Care Community
There’s nothing quite like building a family. Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling journeys that a person can embark on. Hopeful parents who take this route have the opportunity to build their families while still giving a child in need the chance to thrive in a loving, supportive home. But, we know that not everyone is ready for the challenges that come with foster parenting or adopting from foster care. It’s a huge commitment. If you’re not ready to become a foster parent, and if you’re unsure about adopting a child from foster care, you might be unsure of how you can make an impact. After all, if you’re not actually adopting or fostering, is there really a lot you can do? The answer to that question will always be yes. Because May is National Foster Care Adoption Month, we’d like to take some time to highlight the ways you can get involved. While fostering or adoption aren’t for everyone, there are still plenty of ways that you can help. No matter how small, each of us can make a difference in the lives of children in foster care.
How You Can Support Foster and Biological ParentsEven if you decide that fostering isn’t for you, there are still tons of ways that you can help the foster care community. National Foster Care Adoption Month is all about getting involved, so here are a few ways that you can get started today while supporting reunification:
1. Donate Supplies and MoneyMost children arrive in foster care with little to call their own. While foster parents can receive an adoption subsidy and financial assistance to help cover some of the costs of a child’s needs, it never hurts to reach out and offer what you can. Some of the most essential items are school supplies, clothing, suitcases and duffle bags, and gifts during the holidays. In case you don’t have any gently used items, you can always give monetary donations. No matter how you choose to help, your gift will always be appreciated. Reach out to your local foster care organization to determine what’s on the foster care “wish list.”
2. Serve as a Respite CaretakerSometimes, all a foster parent or a biological parent needs is a short break. As a respite care giver, you can offer short-term care to a foster youth. This way, you can provide the necessary safety net a family needs to get right back on their feet. To learn more about respite care programs, check out the Children’s Bureau.
3. VolunteerEven if you choose not to become a foster parent, there are still other ways you can help — namely, by donating your time. Foster care agencies across the country are always looking for helpful volunteers. The possibilities are endless: you could become a mentor for older children; participate in work programs and events; start a fundraiser, and so much more. No matter how you choose to donate your time, it all makes a difference. If that sounds like that what you’re looking for, contact your local foster care agency today to find out how you can help.
4. Become a CASA/GAL VolunteerAs a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or a Guardian and Litem (GAL), you could provide a source of stability in a child’s life. This volunteer speaks on behalf of a child in foster care. Based on their personal relationship with a foster child, a CASA can make recommendations in the best interests of the child to the judge.
5. Become an AdvocateThere are a number of tools that you can use to advocate for the needs of children in foster care. Raising awareness is a great first step to getting involved. Spread the word in your community about the state of foster care and what needs to be done to help these vulnerable children.
---If you have any other questions about getting involved during National Foster Care Adoption Month, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local foster care agency! Do you have any plans for celebrating National Foster Care Adoption Month? Let us know in the comments!