In a recent blog,I wrote about helping foster kids prepare for life after they turn 18, when they will likely lose their outside support systems—both financial and emotional. In the next blog I wrote about how you might help by tutoring, mentoring, serving as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer, becoming a foster parent or adopting an older child.
This blog will discuss a few more ways to help foster children. First, there’s my fellow blogger Kori’s great idea on donating your kids’ old things to the foster care system. This seems to me to be an especially good idea because foster care agencies are busy with too many other things to hold drives of their own, yet they need emergency supplies for children taken into care, and foster parents often find the subsidy for the children inadequate to cover their care.
If you wish to donate money instead of items, consider Treehouse. This organization helps with necessities too, but is especially devoted to helping foster children live an ordinary life by providing the little things many kids take for granted that aren’t covered by the foster care subsidy: a uniform so a kid can play Little League, field trip fees, a graduation gown, a session of summer camp, sometimes even music or dance classes.
Girl Scouts has troops specifically for girls in foster care. The girls are not embarrassed to talk about their home lives since they are with others who can empathize, and the groups are not neighborhood or school-based so that girls can remain with the same troop when moving to a new foster home. Contact your local Girl Scout council to see if this program exists in your area, and if it needs help. If not, ask for help in starting one!
Another way to serve may be in being a respite care provider. This is someone who gives foster or adoptive parents a break. This can involve anything from two hours during a meeting or doctor appointment to a week’s vacation. One foster care program I know of strives to have a respite family take a foster child for one weekend a month. This not only gives the foster family a break, but has often turned into a “cousin” relationship between the respite family and foster kids, one that can remain constant even when the foster family they reside with changes.
For adoptive parents, you may be able to volunteer to help someone you know. For foster parents, you will need a background check and may have to take a class on dealing with kids with special needs.
Please see these related blogs: