Anyone can help children in foster care. I mean anyone. Even if you’re young, even if you’re broke, you can make a difference in a child’s life. To prove it, I’ve compiled a list of ways that you can help foster children. Some of these things, like donating used children’s clothes, require little time and sacrifice. Other options, such as fostering a child, require a lot of time and sacrifice. Ways to help are divided into three categories: Donate, Volunteer, and Open Your Home.
(Donations should be given to your local Department of Human Services)
- Give gently used items such as clothes, toys, and baby gear.
- Give school supplies (especially backpacks, those run out first).
- Give suitcases. When most foster children change homes they have to carry their belongings in trash bags. Their valuables are not garbage and should not be treated as such. Giving a child a suitcase helps them to protect what few belongings they have.
- If you’re into sewing, you could also make bags for kids to carry their belongings in.
- Make blankets for younger children to use as comfort items.
- Sponsor a child for the holidays (gifts will be under $30).
- Give food for holiday meals.
- Make Blessing Bags.
- Give money. Your local Human Services department most likely lacks the funding to help every foster child and family adequately. Help stretch their budget further so that these children can get the resources they need.
- At your local Department of Human Services. No, you won’t be working with foster children. You will most likely be folding clothes and organizing school supplies. The reason I put this one on the list is because case workers need volunteers to do these tasks. Otherwise, the workers will have less time to meet with the children, make appointments for them, and so on. By helping out with the little things, you enable an understaffed department to help every family adequately.
- Driving kids to appointments. This is also through your local Human Services department.
- As a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). CASAs help foster children by getting to know them and other people in their life. Then they inform the judge of what they believe is in the child’s best interest. Because it is the judge, not the case worker, who decides where the child gets placed. http://www.casaforchildren.org
- As a Big Brother/Big Sister. Although the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is not exclusively for foster children, many of these kids are enrolled in the program. Having a good role model can make a world of difference for any child, but especially for a child in foster care. http://www.bbbs.org
Open Your Home:
- Become a Respite Care Provider. Respite care providers temporarily care for children when they are between homes or when their foster families need a break. http://www.adoptuskids.org/about-us/adoptuskids-respite-program
- Become a Foster Parent. http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/how-to-foster
- Adopt a foster child. Many foster parents go on to adopt the children that they have fostered. However, you can also adopt a waiting child. Waiting children are already eligible for adoption and waiting for a forever family. http://www.adoptuskids.org
As you can see, there are many ways that you can help children in the system. Go to any of the links posted above or contact your local Department of Human Services for more information on how to get involved.
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