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Supporting Foster Care

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Being a foster parent is such a worthy cause. If you can get licensed and provide care in your home, that's great! If you're looking for other tangible ways to get involved in this community, look no further. There are many ways to support children and youth in foster care and their foster families.

foster children

Here are some of the many avenues you can take to get involved:


You probably have items in your home that you could donate to various foster care causes.


  • Suitcase Donations - There are countless stories of children whose belongings are thrown in garbage bags because they don't have a suitcase. Something as simple as a suitcase gives them a sense of dignity and a dedicated, safe space for the items most important to them. There are TONS of organizations that accept suitcase donations. Do a quick google search to find one close to you!

  • Prom Dress Donations - When a teen's life is thrown into chaos by foster care, the normalcy of attending prom in a beautiful gown could be a highlight of their year. You could donate dresses to a foster closet or offering to contribute financially toward a dress.

  • Clothing Donations - Many children enter the foster system with inadequate clothing. It may be too big or small or warn out beyond repair. Clothing may wreak of smoke or need to be thrown away to avoid further exposure to certain drugs. In any case, donating clothing to a foster care closet is a great ministry.

  • Backpack Donations - Another easy way to foster normalcy and dignity is a brand new backpack. Our church does a backpack drive for the local foster care agency, where you fill a backpack with the school supplies that the local school districts have on their checklist. It's a great way to show you care and provide for a practical need.

  • Other Donations - Call your local foster care agencies and ask if there are specific items they need. If they're doing a Christmas drive or collecting items for birthdays, they may be able to give you a list of items. They may know of a family that needs a bunk bed, a car seat, or any other number of items.


Become a Foster Care Advocate through TFI (The Forgotten Initiative).


The Forgotten Initiative podcast was the most helpful resource I utilized when we were considering foster care. They interview former foster children and youth about their experiences and have a wide variety of guests who are involved in foster care in some capacity. TFI has an Advocate Program that helps you connect your local church to your local foster care agencies, and you could lead that program with the support of TFI's resources!


You can never go wrong with FOOD!


Breaking news.. foster families need to eat dinner. Whether they're adjusting to a new child in their home or the child has been there two years, they will appreciate a good meal. You can show your support by texting the family a few dinner options and a couple of dates to choose from, and saying you'll take care of their meal that night. Don't say, "We'd love to bring you dinner! What / when?" Minimize their workload by offering specific choices and dates!


You could also set up a meal train. It takes time for families to adjust, so their heads may be spinning for a while. Taking dinner off the "to do" list helps the foster family focus on medical appointments, finding daycare, being available for the child emotionally, buying things they need, etc.


Some agencies will accept meal donations or provide lunch for their social workers. Social workers have very difficult and stressful jobs, and a "thank you" lunch meal is a small way to boost their spirits.


Our local agency also has a permanent meal train for the children who are waiting in offices as their workers search for a foster home for them. It is devastating the number of children who spend hours, sometimes days, waiting in offices. People sign up to bring meals or give the agency gift cards to help feed them while they wait.


Offer your professional talents to foster families for free.


What do you do for a living? Can you offer your services, gifts or talents to children in foster care and their families for free?


I know a talented baker who decorates and delivers free birthday cakes to children in foster care. You could offer free haircuts, cakes, manicures, lawn care services, you name it. There are so many expenses with foster care (and no, the payments foster families get cannot cover these expenses.) Taking something practical off of a family's plate is a huge blessing.


Give financial donations to local agencies, foster families and foster care organizations.


If you're a big Amazon shopper, select a foster care ministry on AmazonSmile so that a percentage of every purchase will be sent to that ministry.


Let a foster family know that you're willing to help them with specific expenses, like Christmas gifts, school supplies, diapers or any other specific needs.

respite foster mom goods and better store

Purchase clothing and gifts from organizations that donate their profits to foster care. The Goods and Better Store is a great option. (Here I am with some of my favorite Goods and Better gear!)


Become trauma-informed.


Every single foster child has experienced trauma. Even if they came from a perfect biological family (none of us do), the experience of being removed from your family and placed into the care of another is a traumatic event. Being trauma-informed means understanding how trauma impacts the brain and being sensitive to how that plays out in everyday life. A trauma-informed individual is going to be more aware of what TO say and what NOT to say to a foster family or child, and hopefully avoid triggering a child when possible.


A simple search for "trauma-informed care" or "trauma-informed parenting" will lead you to many online classes and materials. You can also search for "foster care continuing education opportunities," which will undoubtedly include classes about the impact of trauma.


Spread awareness about foster care.


You never know who could be impacted by your words about foster care. Even if you're not in a place to foster, maybe someone you know is. There's a quote by David Platt that says, "We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names." In the same way, bring foster care into the light so that people can no longer ignore the needs all around them. Share social media posts about foster care. Talk about it at dinner with friends over philly cheesesteaks (IYKYK).


The bottom line: Don't let people meander through life without having to ask the question, "What is my role and responsibility to the vulnerable?"


Pray for Foster Care


Pray for the workers, biological families, foster parents, foster children, biological children in foster families, and everyone who surrounds them. If you need ideas, I have a "prayers" highlight on the @respitefostermom Instagram page with ideas. I also have a separate blog post titled, "Specific Prayers for Foster Care."


In Closing


This is just a small sampling of many ways you can get involved. The key is to just do something. You never know what serving this community will lead to!


Emily | Respite Foster Mom

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