Not everyone can be a foster parent. More than are can, but many can’t. If you can’t (but if the only reason you can’t is because you’d get “too attached” you should read this), but there are things you can do and ways you can help. For Foster Care Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some with you.
Become a respite care giver.
You can offer weekend or short-term care for foster children. Sometimes families may need a break or may be going out of town. Other times, there could be a child or children who need two or three days of care while a long-term foster family is found. You can become licensed to be a respite foster care provider and can provide short-term care for children.
Take meals to a foster family.
Life with children is hard for anyone, but things can get especially chaotic for families who have just received a new placement. Rally your community, set up a meal train for them, and provide meals, just as you would for a family who has just had a new baby come home. What a huge weight off to not have to come up with dinner every night of the week when you have so many new things you are trying to figure out.
Throw a shower for a foster family.
Often times children come into care with very little. Whether a newborn is coming into the home or a 16-year-old, often families have short notice and may not have what all they’d need (or desire) to make their child feel fully welcome and included. Throw them a shower! How cool would it be for a 12-year-old coming into care to be “showered” with a new baseball glove, some video games, books, or new clothes? And what a huge support to the family opening their home to this child!
Encourage your friends who want to become foster parents.
Even if you can’t, for whatever reason, be a foster parent yourself, advocate for children in foster care and encourage those who want to be part of the solution. Research the need for foster care in our state, the statistics about children who age out of foster care, and what it takes to become a foster parent. Read, read, read stories of foster children, foster families. Work to debunk the negative myths and stereotypes associated with foster care.
Plug interested friends into local information sessions, classes and resources. Help them take that first step to the calling that God has placed on their lives. Do NOT tell that one random story you heard about that one time a foster care placement went badly. Nobody wants to hear that. Put COURAGE into those that have chosen this path. Be their biggest advocate and cheerleader. Pray for them. Ask you can help. Provide a listening ear. Ask them how you can make it just a little bit easier.
Become a Visiting Resource or a Cottage Sponsor
Here at Crossnore, we have two programs where you can impact foster children’s lives directly. Some children do not have family to visit with, and you can become a Visiting Resource for them – someone who comes, visits, gets to know a child or sibling group, makes connections, and lets them know they are loved. Did you know that just one meaningful connection with an adult can change the whole trajectory of a child’s life?
You can also be a Cottage Sponsor. Cottage Sponsors get to show love to children through visitation with the whole cottage, helping with celebration and birthdays, attending the children’s sporting events, coming to the cottage for dinner, or taking cottage field trips. It looks a little different for each cottage, but has a huge impact on the hearts of our children.
Donate to organizations that support foster children.
May we suggest ours? Seriously though. There are plenty of organizations out there who are fighting for our nation’s most vulnerable children. Find reputable ones doing good work and send money their way. You do not know the power of your dollars and the direct effect those dollars have on a child’s life. Whether your donations go toward new clothing, a special trip, a college scholarship, a therapy session, an educational opportunity, or a new comforter, in the hands of a good organization, your money can do big things for children in need.
Offer Free Babysitting.
Often children in foster care have doctor’s appointment, visitations with bio family, and other things that require a foster parent to get childcare for the other children in the home. Or doggone it, sometimes foster parents just need a date night. Offer to provide free babysitting so that foster parents can more easily get their foster children to their appointments or can treat themselves to a little self-care.
Connect your church with our Fostering Communities Program.
Fostering Communities is a new initiative funded through the generosity of The Duke Endowment. This program allows Crossnore to partner with faith communities to provide trauma training to your church community, foster care licensing to interested families, and a sustainable support structure to meet the needs of foster children and foster families within your church. If you think your church would be interested, put them in contact with us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’d love to talk to them more!
Contact your NC Senators.
Read more here about a new bill that would increase the daily reimbursement rate to foster care families. A rate that has not changed in over 1o years. Contact your senators and tell them we need this bill!
So you see that there are many ways you can help children in foster care, even if you can’t become a foster parent yourself. Success for these children lies in all of us coming together to show them they are loved, that they matter, and that there is hope for their futures. And there are so many ways to do that. Won’t you join us?