When you look at the most pressing needs in your community, there’s one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: children in foster care. Thousands of children in your area are going through or will go through the foster care system this year. Helping them is part of your responsibility as a concerned citizen.
3 Ways You Can Help
Of all of the issues facing our country today, few hit closer to home than the overabundance of children we have in our foster care system. Whether you’re in a big city or a rural town, there are foster children in your area that need help.
According to Children’s Rights, there are nearly 438,000 children in foster care in the United States on any given day. Over a given year, more than 687,000 children spend time in the system. On average, children remain in state care for two years – with six percent of children remaining for five-plus years. And despite the perception that all foster care children are infants and toddlers, the average age of a child entering care is seven.
It’s hard not to be moved by these numbers, but the question is, will you be moved to action? Not every person is called to become a foster parent, but there’s always something you can do to help. Here are a few practical suggestions.
1. Provide Respite Care
Because all children in the foster care system must legally be under the supervision of an adult who has been cleared by the state, foster parents can’t call up any neighbor, friend, or teenager to babysit or watch their foster kids – even in an emergency. This is where you can help.
By filling out a form, submitting a copy of your driver’s license, and passing a background check, you can become a respite care provider and serve as an emergency contact for a foster family in need. Respite care can range from watching kids for an hour while a foster parent goes to a doctor’s appointment to providing short-term care when a child needs a safe place to stay during a transition.
2. Donate Items Of Need
One of the biggest issues foster families and the children in their care deal with is a lack of resources. This can be experienced in any number of ways but is often most obvious when young kids go to school and don’t have the necessary supplies to get ahead.
If you want to help out in a very simple, yet practical way, try donating backpacks or putting together a school supply drive. While it’ll take some time and money on your part, you’ll be shocked by how much positive feedback you get from others in the community. People are willing to help – they just need a nudge.
Foster parents do way more than provide a bed and pillow for children in need. There’s food, homework, carpooling, laundry, counseling, caseworker visits, late-night phone calls, stacks of paperwork, emotional distress, and an endless list of other pressing needs.
By volunteering your time and services, you can help foster families and the children they care for in very practical ways. This may look like mowing the lawn for a foster family down the street, providing pro bono counseling services, or bringing over a couple of freezer meals.
Help Foster Children – Get Involved Today
Foster children in your area need help today. While you have a safe, warm home to return to at night, foster children can’t always say the same. They’re coming out of situations where there’s abuse or neglect and often spend months or years bouncing around from one foster home to the next. In many cases, they return to the same situation that they were initially removed from.
If you feel called to become a foster parent, then, by all means, make it happen! But if you’re unable to, there are dozens of ways you can help support these children and families in need. Get involved today!
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