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National Foster Care Month: 10 Ways You Can Help

Did you know May is National Foster Care Month? There are nearly 400,000 kids in the U.S. foster care system — and in most areas there just aren’t enough good foster parents to give them the life they deserve.

We’ve been licensed foster parents for a little over two months now. Our goal is adoption, and we’re still in the waiting stage. Along the way, though, my heart is broken daily by emails and updates on children and sibling pairs we are just not equipped to care for.

Luckily, there are ways to help, even if we aren’t meant to be their parents. National Foster Care Month is a great time to think about what you can do for kids in need, even if fostering isn’t for you. Here are 10 ways you can help kids in foster care and the parents who open their home — and hearts — to raise them:

  • National Foster Care Month: 10 Ways to Support Foster Families: 1 of 11
    National Foster Care Month - 10 Ways You Can Help

    Click through to see them all!

  • Raise Awareness 2 of 11
    National Foster Care Month

    Even if fostering isn't for you, start the conversation. Help promote National Foster Care Month by sharing information, displaying blue ribbons or talking to friends. Once I started talking about it, I was really surprised by the number of people who had thought about it already or began to consider it after hearing about our experience.
    Read more about the blue ribbon project from the National Foster Parents Association

  • Pitch In Where You Can 3 of 11
    pitching in for foster families

    Know a foster family? Offer to mow the lawn, bring a meal or pitch in any way you can. In addition to regular parenting jobs, foster parents are also responsible for visitations, therapy sessions, training, court visits, and regular meetings with the children's team of caseworkers. They have a lot on their plate and would appreciate any offer to help.
    Photo Credit: osseous

  • Offer to Babysit 4 of 11
    How to Help Foster Parents

    Babysitting is a little tricky for foster parents. Caregivers have to pass a criminal background check, but we are lucky to have a huge list of friends & family on our approved list. It's tough going from leaving the girls with their older sister to needing an actual babysitter, and I can only imagine how much harder it would be for families who lack that strong network.
    Photo Credit: Spencer Sokol

  • Red Scarf Project 5 of 11
    Red Scarf Project

    If you're a knitter, put your skills to use with the Red Scarf Project. Foster Care to Success includes a handmade scarf in each of their Valentine's Day college care packages. While you can knit all year, the scarves are accepted between September 1st and December 15th.
    Photo Credit: notahipster

  • Project Linus 6 of 11
    Project Linus

    Project Linus is one of my favorite charities ever. You don't even have to have sewing skills to create a loving blanket for kids in need. I've even made no-sew blankets with my Girl Scout troops as a service project.
    Photo Credit: stoichiometry

  • Pajama Program 7 of 11
    Pajama Project

    Is there anything more comforting for kids than warm pajamas and a bedtime story? For so many kids in need, that just isn't a reality. Enter the Pajama Program. Through donation drives across the country, more than 2 million kids have received the comfort of a good night's sleep. Donate to a chapter in your area or start a collection drive in your own community.
    Photo Credit: Sideways Sarah

  • Send a College Care Package 8 of 11
    care packages for foster youth

    Less than 2% of foster youth actually graduate from college. Give them a boost with a student care package. Contact your local foster agency or contribute through the Foster Care to Success Student Care Package program.
    Photo Credit: slushpup

  • Donate School Supplies 9 of 11
    How to Help Foster Kids

    School is nearly out for this year, but before you know it, school supplies will be heavily featured in stores again. Grab a few extra and donate to a school supply drive near you. Check with churches and community centers in your area or donate to Sponsor-A-Mind.

    Photo Credit: rebeccafeind

  • Mentor a Child 10 of 11
    Tutor portraits

    Connect with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, your local foster care agency or Foster Care to Success to find out about mentoring or tutoring programs in your area. Be a stable adult in the life of an at-risk kid. I promise you'll get more out of it than you could ever imagine.
    Photo Credit: AfroDad

  • Respite Care 11 of 11
    Respite Care

    Respite care is like temporary foster care — you provide a break for foster parents who may be traveling, dealing with illness or in need of temporary care for other reasons. Respite providers are licensed foster care parents, but you can let your agency know that you are only interested in respite. We get called at least once a week to care for children in need of a temporary home. You can accept as little or as often as you want. We've had 4 different respite children in our home over the last few months, and it's been very rewarding.
    Photo Credit: jetalone

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More from Heather:
Foster and Respite Care: Yeah, You Can
Maybe Just One More

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