Did you know there are currently over 400,000 kids in the foster care system right now? It’s an overwhelming, tragic number. After reading that number, you may be thinking, ‘I want to help these kids, but I’m not in a place to become a foster parent and take in kids.’ Well, you’re in luck because that is not the only way to get involved in foster care and help kids in the system. Here are three ways you can get involved right now!
1. Mentoring a child or teenager in foster care
Kids in foster care are desperate for a connection with someone. They need someone to support them. Teenagers, especially those about to age out of the system, are facing adulthood without any support or knowledge of how to be an adult. The statistics of what happens to kids in foster care who don’t have a supportive adult are heartbreaking. Drugs, homelessness, pregnancy, incarceration. However, those statistics also show that when there is the presence of one caring, safe adult, the rates of all of those drop dramatically. Having someone to talk to, to guide them, to teach them life skills has been shown to make such a difference. If you have an hour a week to give, consider mentoring.
2. Supporting foster families
Do you know a foster family personally? If so, find ways to support them. Bringing a meal is so helpful. It is one less thing they have to worry about in a day. In my experience, even just a coffee drop off was something I was so thankful for after a long night where my kids didn’t sleep. Offer to watch their kids while they attend trainings, court, or take an afternoon to themselves. This is such a practical, helpful way to be a part of foster care.
If you don’t know a family personally, contact your local DCBS or foster care agency. While they will not be able to give you the names of families, you can drop off a card with a gift card to a restaurant, and they can pass it along to a family they’re working with.
3. Advocating for kids in care
You may not have time to mentor or support a foster family. That’s okay! The next time you’re talking to someone, or going to vote, remember kids in foster care. Talk about the need for people to step in when conversing with people. Vote for candidates who want to make a difference in the foster care system. Use your social media to spread awareness of the high number of kids in care. Most people are unaware that there are so many in the system. Using your voice to advocate for them is much needed.
Everyone has a place to serve in foster care. Each piece is important. Don’t think just because you can ‘only drop off coffee’ or can ‘just speak up in a conversation’ that your place is not as important as someone with children in their home. It’s all a part of helping lower the number of kids in care. What’s your part?
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lindsay Veitz. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Lindsay here:
‘When you meet him, good luck.’ Suddenly, I heard yelling. There he was – this short, scrawny kid. He changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.’: Foster mom talks mentoring teen in foster care, ‘He is part of our family’
Read more stories like this here:
‘I’ll be back for you, I promise.’ I looked back with tears in my eyes. Her life is a revolving door of state workers and strangers.’: Adoptee becomes volunteer foster care advocate, ‘No act of love is too little’
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