May is National Foster Care Month!
This month we recognize the countless number of children who have been uprooted from their first homes in pursuit of safety in the foster care system. We remember the many children still in need of a safe home through the permanency of adoption from foster care or with the hope of reunification. We salute the many families who have recognized the needs of these children and answered the call to foster and/or adopt. We challenge more people to help close the gap in our society of children in need and the number of families opening their doors.
In honor of National Foster Care Month I want to challenge you to learn more about how you can help children in foster care! If you have ever been interesting in becoming a foster parent in your community, now is a great time to take the next step! Contact your local department of social services and request information, talk to a foster parent that you know in your community, visit websites for more information, check out these links: Becoming a Foster Parent and What is Foster Care?
There is a high demand for good foster homes in nearly every community, but not everyone with a heart to help can or will become a licensed foster parent. If you are interested in helping children in foster care but are not able to be a foster parent there are many other ways you can support children in the foster care system!
You can support children in foster care by…
1. Praying for them.
Pray for God’s protection over their lives. Pray for the foster families that are providing care for them. Pray for the social workers, guardian ad litem volunteers and judges making decisions for them. Pray for their biological families. Pray for permanency in safe and loving homes. Pray that their physical, emotional, spiritual and educational needs are met. Pray that God uses their circumstances for His good purpose. Pray for financial support for the systems in place to keep them safe.
2. Volunteering at your local agency.
Depending on the size of your local social services agency, there may be a need for community volunteers to lighten the load of the foster care system. Volunteers can provide transportation for children or families to and from visits, assist with clerical duties, or help the agency in other ways. Simply ask your agency if they are in need of volunteers!
3. Supporting a foster family you know.
Supporting a foster family can be as simple as providing a meal to a family with a new placement, offering gently used clothes or toys your children have outgrown, or giving a small gift to the child or family as a kind gesture. You can offer to babysit (with permission from the agency), provide encouraging words or offer a listening ear. Tell the family that you support what they are doing and remind them of the small difference they are making in a child’s life. Kind words and meaningful gestures go a long way on a difficult day in the foster care system.
4. Providing respite foster care.
If you are able to complete the foster care licensing process, but are unwilling or unable to commit to fulltime foster parenting, you should consider respite care. Respite foster parents provide relief to full-time foster parents for weekend getaways, vacations when the child in foster care cannot come along, or just to offer a small break to recharge. Respite foster parents can also be available for short-term emergency placements while an appropriate foster home can be located for a child.
5. Donating new or gently used clothes or toys to the agency.
Some social service agencies have a clothing (and toy) closet for the children in foster care. It is a collection of clothing in various sizes and styles, and toys for different ages that a foster parent can go to when there is a need. Even adult sized clothes may be accepted for the teenagers in foster care. Also, consider donating things like infant furniture, car seats, and electronic items for older children. Monetary donations may also be accepted to help stock the clothing closet as well.
6. Giving Christmas and/or birthday gifts to the children.
Some agencies assist with providing children in care with Christmas or birthday gifts. They may have a wish list for the children in their foster homes, and you can help by giving a child in your community a gift that they would like to have for a special occasion. If your agency doesn’t have a program for gift giving you may suggest the idea to your agency, and even help by organizing it
7. Spreading the word about children in foster care.
Learn more about the needs of foster children in your community and share it with others. The more we spread the word about foster care…the more help the children will receive.
There are many ways you can help children in the foster care system in your own community!
Read Our Foster to Adoption Journey here to follow the journey we took through the foster care system and ultimately to adoption.
If you would like more information or a have a question about foster care or adoption please feel free to contact me!
Happy National Foster Care Month! Prayers for more families to take the challenge and for permanency and safety for the children in care.