In the United States alone, there are around 450,000 children in the foster care system. While not everyone is capable or called to adopt a child, everyone, in some way, can help to make life better for the children that are in the system.
Can you adopt?
Giving children a chance to grow up in a permanent home is the ultimate goal for those who can adopt. Not every child in the foster care system will be reunited with their biological family, and sadly, not every child will have a chance at adoption either. Many will “age out” of the system and will be forced to live on their own and support themselves once they turn eighteen. [Read more on “aging out” in our article “Aging Out”: Life After Foster Care]
If you can’t adopt, can you foster?
Foster children that do not live with a foster family live in group homes. A group home is a place where several foster children live together until adopted or placed into a foster home. Children, especially early teens, have higher chances of becoming runaways or victims of human trafficking while placed in group homes as they are not in a family unit situation and are searching for love and comfort. Fostering a child can provide a safe and loving environment for them.
If you can’t foster, can you sponsor?
Sponsoring a foster child could take many forms. Different states have different ways and opportunities to going about child sponsorship. Some ways are strictly providing funds to help a specific child. Sometimes it requires giving gifts/products to help the specific child, and in other cases it becomes a mentorship opportunities.
One way to sponsor a child is to simply partner with a foster family and help them with any needs they come across during their time fostering the child: buying food, babysitting, tutoring, purchasing furniture or clothes for the child, etc. Which brings us to . . .
If you can’t sponsor, can you mentor?
Do you know of a family that is fostering a child? Is there a foster child mentoring organization in your city? Taking a few hours out of your week can mean the world to a child or a teen in foster care.
If you can’t mentor, can you volunteer?
There are many ways to volunteer with foster children. This could range from helping out with group homes, summer camps, foster programs, to interning with an agency or a company that provides for foster children. Volunteers make a huge impact on foster kids, whether it’s behind the scenes or upfront in person, just like our CFC Champions.
[Read our article of one of our volunteer’s experiences with a foster child in "God’s Grace"]
If you can’t volunteer, can you donate?
Any donation is always a gift to a child that already does not have much to call their own. Here at Forever Kids, A Case for Character provides a way to make a unique but powerful donation to provide for foster kids. When foster children move from placement to placement, which is frequently, or even when they are taken to visit with family, they are given a small trash bag to pack their belongings in. A trash bag.
A Case for Character provides brand-new (not hand-me-down) suitcases for foster children to call their own. But, we don’t stop there. Inside the suitcase is character-building materials: the ABC’s of Character book and the accompanying CDs. [WOW: 10 Words of Wisdom, the book for older teens, is coming soon]
Any donation made helps to make a difference in the lives of foster children by helping to provide a brand new suitcase with character-building materials. Make a donation today! [Click here to view donation options]
If you can’t donate, you can educate!
Spread the word! Share the story! There are people out there that can adopt, foster, sponsor, mentor, volunteer, or donate, but they have to know the opportunities. Become an advocate for adoption and foster parenting. Encourage sponsorship and mentorship. Share volunteer opportunities. Show ways to donate. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of foster children, each of us taking a part in our own way.
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Kierstyn is Forever Kids' media director and campaign coordinator. Stepping into ministry with Tony and Kathy Salerno several years ago, she continues to help promote awareness for the organization's passion to help meet the needs of children in a character way.