How To Help Foster Children & Families (Even if you can’t become a foster parent!)

May 1, 2018

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9

As we get settled into our life after the military and life after graduate school, both filled with instability and unpredictable schedules, we’ve been considering our plans for the future.  My husband and all of his siblings were all brought together within their family through the beautiful gift of adoption, so for years we’ve envisioned bringing a child into our family the same way!  I always assumed our adoption would happen internationally, and probably from South Korea, where my husband and his brother and two sisters were adopted from.

However, as time has gone on, I’ve became acutely aware of the children in our own communities, in need of stability and safety.  Even if only temporary. Throughout the bible, scripture directs us to care for orphans and to protect the most vulnerable!  I’ve been feeling a shift in my heart to learn more about becoming the hands and feet of the risen Christ.  As we have learned more about the process of becoming licensed in our county, I realized it is a lengthy process!  I wanted to dive in right in beginning supporting these families as we navigated this process.

So, this is post is a resource (to the best of my non-foster parent abilities) to help guide you as you support others on this journey.  Note, I did ask my friend who is currently a foster parent about a million questions for her guidance and wisdom in creating this. 

1) Meet their food needs.  My friend said it best, she said think of the new placement as a new baby.  What helped to ease the transition?  Considering giving food gift cards for delivery, make a meal train, and bring pre-packaged snacks.  Also, don’t forget breakfast! Muffins, egg casseroles, and freezer burritos can make the transition a lot easier.

2) Help them round up the last minute items they need.  These do not have to be brand new items!  Sometimes, a fostering family may have a six year old and then several months later it may be a newborn.  There is a scramble that usually happens while parents try to round up the items they need for their placement.  Offer to be a “point person” so that multiple people aren’t running to the home as they try to adjust to a new normal.  I try to stock up on coupon diapers and other coupon items so I can drop those off to a family whose just received a new placement.  Send them things via Amazon Prime Now, so it just arrives at their door.

3) Consider getting the necessary certifications to provide respite care.  Maybe it just isn’t possible for you to foster right now, but consider completing the certification process so you can at least provide occasional respite care for your friends who have taken on children.  This varies state by state, but usually it isn’t as intensive as becoming a foster parent and can make it easier for fostering parents to yes when a placement is available.

4) Contact your local DCS office and see what tangible needs you can meet within your community.  For example, our office does a program called “welcome boxes” so when a child comes into care, these boxes have special items to entertain them while they are placed with a foster family, snacks, etc.  They also do “launch” boxes for children aging out of care with items like plates, laundry detergent, gift cards for food, etc.  You can also gather pre-packaged snacks for the staff at these offices.  Caseworkers often have to skip eating lunch while they attempt to place their children with foster families.  There’s also a program where you can hang out with kids in the office while a placement is found.

5) Treat foster kids just the same as BIO kids, don’t forget to invite them to playdates and birthday celebrations.  

6) Look for small ways to serve your friends who are taking this on.  Can you mow their lawn?  Cut their children’s hair?  Consider sponsoring a child to participate in an activity (like a sport or class!)

7) Become a CASA.  (Court Appointed Special Advocate)

8) Help high school age foster children complete college applications and lengthy FAFSA paperwork.

9) Call your friends, check in with them.

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