We understand that not everyone is ready to become a foster parent, but there are many things you can do to help foster children and foster parents in your community. Because children enter foster care in emergency situations, they often have very few personal possessions– and what little they do have often is carried around in trash bags.

Many foster children have special needs, such as counseling, speech therapy, or tutoring. Foster care can be a hectic and expensive endeavor, and many foster parents often find themselves scrambling to keep up. Sometimes foster parents need a little break– sometimes they just need a little recognition.

Foster parents must not be left to tackle all of this on their own. Each community must accept responsibility for these children. Here are some ideas of things you or your business, church, or service organization can do to give foster families in your community the support they need and deserve.

Support local foster families.

1. Offer to babysit for a foster family in your area. Better yet, complete the state foster care license process and then volunteer to provide overnight or weekend “respite care” to give foster parents a break from their responsibilities.
2. Donate clothing, baby supplies, car seats, high chairs, toys, luggage, or school supplies to local foster parents or foster parent associations.
3. Get colleagues or your church or service organization to put together care packages (luggage, clothing, cameras, toothbrushes, etc.) for children entering foster care.
4. If you own or run a business, offer discounts or free services to foster families. (Or help solicit such donations from businesses in your area.)
5. If you have a special skill– carpentry, handiwork, etc.– offer to donate some time to a local foster family.
6. Volunteer to help at your local foster parent association.

Support local children in foster care.

1. Volunteer to help tutor a foster child, especially in reading.
2. Offer to give a foster child free lessons in music, dance, or art.
3. You can upgrade to a new home computer, donate the older model to a foster child, and offer to teach that child how to use it.
4. Help organize local recreation camps or other activities for foster children, or offer scholarships to existing camps or activities.
5. Help set up scholarship funds for foster children who graduate from high school.
6. Donate money or goods for special occasions, such as holidays, birthdays, or graduation.

Support your local foster care system.

1. Help recruit people you believe would make good foster parents.
2. Offer to help support and organize local foster parent appreciation events, such as banquets, picnics, or potlatches.
3. Become a Guardian ad Litem (court-appointed advocate for foster children).
4. Consider becoming a foster parent.