A lot of people assume that the only way to help these kids is to foster them. That simply isn’t true. The system, at its core, is broken. It is filled to the brim with wonderful people who are overworked, underpaid, and need help so they are able to better support these kids. The ways to help ultimately boil down to four different ways: donations, volunteer work, fostering, and education.
Region to region, state to state, county to county, there is one thing I can guarantee; your local foster care agency is underfunded. I used to shrug off donating money as an option because sometimes all I had to give was $10. In my mind, that was not going to help anyone. Again, that simply isn’t true. Think of the fundraiser we did! The majority of donations were less than $10. Even the smallest of donations goes a long ways.
As far as where to donate, your local foster care agency will most likely have an online form where you can directly donate money. You can go here and find your local UnitedWay to donate to and support.
You can always reach out to your local foster care center (a very simple google search will help you) and donate items year round. Often they need simple items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash etc..
Kids who are removed from their homes often times don’t have a way to carry their belongings. So, they store them in trash bags. There are a few incredible non-profit services who have taken aim at solving this problem.
Outside of money, the greatest gift you could ever give these kids is the gift of your time through volunteer work.
An incredible, and easy, way to volunteer is by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate. After completion of your training, you will assist the Guardian Ad Litem – the child’s attorney – in directly advocating for these kids’ needs and what they want. So often, their wishes get lost amongst the parents wishes.
You take the kids out of the home a minimum of two times a month for a few hours each time. You hang out, make memories, provide stability, and ensure that they are safe and being loved on wherever they are at. It is truly the most rewarding thing you could do. And anyone can do it!
Become A Foster Parent
This one is pretty self explanatory. There are currently 100,000+ legally free children waiting to be adopted in the system. There are 400,000+ kids in the system without homes. The need for wonderful families is tremendous. You don’t have to be married, have kids of your own, or even be under a certain age to foster. As long as you are over the age of 21, pass a background check, and are in good physical health you can be a foster parent.
All these kids require are people that will provide love, a roof over their heads, food, and a safe place to land.
If you are considering foster care, but aren’t quite ready, you can become a respite foster parent. When foster parents go out of town for vacation or even take a date night, you would watch their foster kids for them. This is a great way to dip your toes in the water and gain a bit of experience with the system.
Both of these options do require that you attend a foster care training course. For more information, please visit your local agencies website.
“People are only in it for the money.”
“Those kids are all trouble makers.”
“It’s funded by the government. I’m sure they get paid enough.”
“I could never foster or volunteer. I would get too attached.
Sadly, these are common stereotypes throughout the nation about the foster care system and the kids within it. If you are not in a position to donate, volunteer, or become a foster parent, then I encourage you to educate yourself.
Learn everything you can about the system from the people who work in it to the kids who are placed in it. Learn about how most foster parents only get paid an average of .75 cents an hour per kid. Learn about how unlikely it is for people to take in teenagers, let alone teenage boys.
People who have the desire to help may be dissuaded by untrue stereotypes spread by those around them. Learn, educate, and inspire. Maybe you will change a child’s life.