Children of all ages and backgrounds are placed into the foster care system every day for a variety of reasons. The one thing that they all have in common is that their lives have been significantly changed, and that can be frightening for many of them. Every child deserves to feel cared for and safe, and that’s why the role of foster parents is so important. However, there are also plenty of other things that you can do to help foster children in your community, even if you’ve decided that foster parenting or adoption isn’t right for you. Take a look at some of the ways you can make a difference in a child’s life below.
Look Into Mentoring
Foster children don’t generally have a lot of stability in their lives, so having a mentor that they can look forward to seeing and spending time with on a regular basis will serve to provide them with some consistency. The support and encouragement that mentors offer are vital to children who desire to know that they’re worth someone’s time. Some specific programs use mentors to help with academics or life skills, or you may just spend quality time playing games, talking, sharing a meal, etc.
Provide Respite Care
You may have tossed around the idea of becoming a foster parent and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best situation for you and your family , but there are many types of foster care placements that don’t have to be long-term. Numerous children need people who will take them in under respite care, which is reserved for short-term, emergency situations. As a respite care provider, you may receive a child that has just been taken out of their home and must find a place to stay for 24 hours, or you may be a source of relief for a few days for biological or foster parents who are dealing with difficult situations.
Volunteer Your Time
Aside from mentoring one particular child, there are many other opportunities for you to volunteer your time to the foster care system. This may include driving children to and from medical appointments or visits with their birth family ; spending time at a local foster organization and helping with meal preparation, reading to kids, wrapping presents, organizing donations, etc.; and/or taking professional-looking photos of children waiting to be placed in a foster or adoptive home.
Make a Donation
Foster children often leave their homes with very little to none of their clothes and personal possessions. There is always a need for donations in good condition in the form of clothing, toys, books , games, toiletries, luggage, and school supplies. You can contact child welfare agencies and children’s homes in your area to get a good idea of specific items that are needed. Organizing a donation drive or fundraiser is also welcomed.
Become an Advocate
There are a large number of children in foster care across the U.S. who need adult advocates to speak on their behalf and make sure they don’t get overlooked in the crowded system. Becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) means taking on the responsibility of gathering information from all the people that are a part of a child’s life to present to a judge who will then use it to determine the best circumstances for the child to be in.
With so many ways to contribute, there’s no reason not to get involved with the foster care system and help to positively influence the life of a child.
This article was previously published at http://www.childrenfirstffa.com/what-you-can-do-to-help-children-in-the-... .
Mike Logan is the founder and CEO of Children First Foster Family Agency in northern California.