Foster Care

How You Can Help Children in Care and Foster Parents Thrive

Even if you aren’t ready to become a foster parent, there are things you can do to help foster parents and children in care. Learn more in our blog post!

There are many children in foster care who need our support as allies. These brave children often move from one home to another and face different kinds of challenges along the way.

The good news is we can all do something to help — even those who aren’t ready to become foster parents

Children in care and their families need more than just a place to stay. They need community connections with people who understand them and can help them with day-to-day life. A kind word, phone call, or act of service can make a big change in their lives — even when it’s not something you can do every day.

In this blog, we'll talk about how everyone and anyone can help kids in care and the foster families that are there to help them thrive. Whether it’s being a friend to a foster family, helping foster kids with their schoolwork, or standing up for them as an advocate in important decisions, there are many ways you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Be Supportive

Foster families do a lot for kids who need a home, but they need our help, too.

It's not just about the kids; the whole family can benefit from our support as a community. Here are some easy ways to help them out.

  • Listen and try to understand - Sometimes, the best help is just listening. Foster parents should feel safe and able to share their stories and feelings with us. We don't always need to fix things; just being there to listen is often enough. Whether in person or over the phone, listening is a powerful and simple way to share your time and love with a care provider.
  • Encourage them - Kind words can mean a lot — even something as simple as telling foster parents they're doing a great job can really lift their spirits! You can also refer them to groups where they can meet other foster parents since it's a chance to talk to people who understand what they’re going through.
  • Offer respite support - If you’re able to provide respite care or sitting services, a wellness break means the world for families providing care. It doesn’t mean a foster parent doesn’t love their child — it just means they need breaks like any other parent! To provide this level of support, you’ll need to take courses to qualify. This is because foster parents can only turn to qualified sitters to provide care. Taking this step is a huge way to help families and a chance to see a small slice of what they went through to become licensed foster parents.

When you support foster families, you're not just helping the parents or the kids; you’re helping uplift your whole community. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in their lives!

Volunteer as an Academic Tutor

Kids in care often move around a lot, which means attending different schools. Moving around and missing classes can make it tough for children to learn and thrive in a school environment, and they could fall behind in their studies. 

  • Becoming a tutor for kids in care is an incredible way to give back — if you’re good at subjects like math, reading, or science, you can help these children learn and thrive.
  • By tutoring kids in care, you can help them understand their lessons, overcome challenges, and do better in school. This can be a big help, especially when they're having a hard time with their studies.
  • Children in care are at a higher risk of dropping out of school and at a disadvantage when it comes to attending college. Supporting their education at a time when they’re most vulnerable can change their entire future.

Tutors for children in care often have to complete some extra steps before providing services for the safety and well-being of the child. This may include:

  • Background checks
  • Monthly activity reports
  • Ongoing skill development

Being a tutor means giving kids in care the extra help they need to succeed in school — it's a great way to make a real difference in their lives!

Advocate for Children in Care as a CASA Volunteer

Some kids in care need someone to speak up for them in court, and this is where CASA volunteers come in.

What a CASA Volunteer Does

A CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer is a special kind of helper who makes sure that a child in care is being taken care of properly.

  • Advocates speak to children in care, their foster families, and other people to understand what children in care may need.
  • Then, they go to court and tell the judge what they think is best for the kids. This can include things like where they think a child should live or what kind of help they might need.

How to Become a CASA Volunteer

Becoming a CASA volunteer is a big commitment, but it's very important. 

  • First, you’ll need to select the state you live in from the CASA website — they will point you to the right local program. 
  • From there, you need to learn how to be a CASA volunteer. This means going through special sessions where you learn about the court system and how to help kids in foster care. 
  • You also have to pass a background check — this is to make sure that it's safe for you to work with kids.

By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can really help kids in care have a better life. You get to be the person who stands up for them and makes sure they are heard.

Educate Yourself and Others

The challenges faced by children in foster care are numerous, ranging from emotional trauma to the complexities of navigating the foster care system. 

As a community, it's crucial that we understand these challenges to provide meaningful support!

  • Take the initiative to educate yourself and those around you about the realities of foster care — it doesn’t cost anything but some of your time. 
  • By gaining a deeper understanding of the needs of children in care and the system that supports them, we can all become better allies.
  • Knowledge empowers us to advocate more effectively for changes that can improve the lives of these children and their families.
  • To start, explore a variety of resources that shed light on the foster care experience. This could include reading books, watching documentaries, or attending talks and seminars focused on foster care. 
  • Websites of organizations dedicated to foster care advocacy often have a wealth of information, including firsthand accounts from children in care and foster parents.

Support Transition and Aging Out Programs

As children in care approach adulthood, they face the critical challenge of transitioning out of the foster care system. This period, often referred to as "aging out," can be a time of significant uncertainty and vulnerability for young adults who may not have traditional support systems in place. 

That's where transition and aging out programs come into play, offering a lifeline to these young individuals by providing essential guidance, education, and resources to help them navigate the path to independence.

  • These programs are designed to equip youth with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed as independent adults.
  • From financial literacy workshops to career counseling and access to higher education opportunities, these initiatives aim to fill the gap that many youth in care experience as they move into adulthood.
  • Supporting these programs can take various forms, including volunteering your time or advocating for policies that ensure these youth have the support they need during this critical transition.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Volunteer with local organizations that specialize in transition services for youth in care. Your time and skills can make a direct impact on the lives of young adults as they prepare for independence.
  • Advocate for extended support services for foster youth beyond the age of 18. Many need support well into their early twenties as they establish themselves in the adult world.

By supporting transition and aging-out programs, we can help ensure that children in care are not left to navigate the challenges of adulthood alone.

These programs not only provide practical assistance but also convey a message of hope and support, showing young adults that their community stands behind them, ready to help them succeed.

Learn More About Foster Parenting In Our Upcoming Webinar

The best thing you can do for kids in care is to become a foster parent yourself — however, we know that it’s a big decision. Until then, becoming an advocate, a friend, and support for foster families in need is still a great way to make a difference.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can take your support one step further and become a foster parent, join us for our webinar. It provides information about the fostering process and the requirements and qualifications to foster a child.

We’ll see you there!

Sign Up For The Webinar

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