National Foster Care Month: 10 Ways You Can HelpHeather Sokol
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
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Raise Awareness 2 of 11
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
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
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
Project Linus 6 of 11
Pajama Program 7 of 11
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
Donate School Supplies 9 of 11
Mentor a Child 10 of 11
Respite Care 11 of 11
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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