Imagine yourself as a lone traveler, going from destination to destination, facing the unknown. Then imagine yourself as a seven year old and your destination is a new foster home, a new school, and a new set of rules to follow. Your backpack and lunchbox are hand-me downs, and you have never had a brand new set of shoes. Although your foster mom is sweet, she keeps messing up your name and by the time she has mastered your name, learned you like peanut butter and jam with no crust, you are on the move, again.
“I was an infant when I was put up for adoption and was adopted 5 days before my first birthday, but I remember a friend describing herself as a county (not world) traveler. She has explored each public school in the county and lost count how many times she moved since she was placed at the age of two. I met her at 13 and she still did not know her destination, her home. Her most cherished possession was a make-up bag a woman had given to her filled with make up and jewelry.”
Did you know?*
- Approximately 382,400 children under 18 are in foster care in the US.
- Nearly half of the young people in foster care are older than age 10.
- Every year, the number of children turning 18 without being adopted . . . “aging out of the system” . . . increases. Last year, it was approximately 26,200 children.
- 60% of children that are in the foster system experience homelessness in their lifetime.
- Many children have to leave their homes or foster placements unexpectedly and use garbage bags to carry their few belongings.
How can you help?
1. Be informed. Learn about the needs of the children in the foster system. Teach your children about the hardships that children in foster care face on a daily basis.
2. Act in a small or big way. Provide a simple act of kindness or complete a service project designed to help meet the needs of kids in foster care. (Ideas below!)
Become Informed–Some Videos to Help
(NOTE: Videos may not be suitable for your children. Frankly, life for kids in the foster system is hard. Videos about what happens to them are sad. Many are graphic. There are sections in these videos that may be appropriate for your children. I tried very hard to find those moments. Heads Up: There may be language and situations that are discussed that you may not want your children to hear.)
Children in Foster Care by Adopt US Kids
My Life In a Suitcase
From Place to Place–the Movie, yes, a movie about the foster system from foster kids
A Way to Participate and Continue to Learn:
- Participate in a Facebook page that focuses on helping children in the foster system.
- Read about experiences from children in the foster system and foster parents.
- Check out a couple of the following links to learn more–
A Foster System Near You
- Children’s Rights: Facts about Foster Care in the US
- Fostering Kids in New Zealand
- Canadian Foster Family Association
- FosterCare UK
- My Foster Child in UK
- British Association for Adoption and Fostering
Organizations that Have Heart for Children in Foster Care
- Group Launches Foster Care Awareness Campaign by Napa Valley Register
- Arrow Child and Family Ministries
- HEROES Youth Leadership-A supportive network of individuals committed to the well-being those touched by foster care and/or adoption
- Music Is Unity
- National Foster Youth Action Network-Foster youth transforming themselves into powerful leaders and advocates.
- Fostering Hope Project-To provide tools, networking, and encouragement to anyone who is interested in becoming part of the movement to end child maltreatment and the need for foster care.
- Together We Rise-Organization that hosts projects to benefit children in foster care.
The following ideas are approved by foster moms and organizations that help children in the foster system.
MANY of these ideas are ideas that children can do with you.
- Donate money to an organization that supports kids in the foster system in your area.
- Donate socks and underwear.
- Companies can donate seats to concerts and plays to children in the foster system. Ask your company if they can start this.
- Drop off gift cards for foster children to receive on their birthday.
- Cuddle Kits: A nice blanket, pillow, and a flashlight (many kids placed in foster care are afraid of the dark). Project Linus: How You Can Help Kids In Foster Care
- Art Kits: Include art supplies like: art pencils, markers, crayons, and small sketchbooks.
- Pajama Drive: Ask friends and coworkers to help out by donating new pajamas and toothbrushes, especially needed by kids placed in an emergency situation
- Gift of a Scrapbook: Ask scrapbook stores to donates supplies. Take and develop a few photos of the kids, things they like, their friends, and have them make small scrapbooks.
- Prom Dress Drive: Collect gently used prom dresses for girls who would otherwise not be able to afford prom. Prom Dress Drive in the Orlando Area
- Serve as a child advocate or mentor for a child in the foster system in your area.
“No More Trash Bags for Luggage!” Service Projects
- Suitcase Drive: NO MORE TRASH BAGS for their belongings. Suitcases 4 Kids
- Pack a Bag: To a bag, add a pair of pajamas, hair-ties, toothbrush, toothpaste, and comb or brush and new socks and underwear. In bags for older kids-add more toiletries like body wash or deodorant. See how one lady completed these bags: Bags for Foster Care Children Two not-for-profit organizations doing this: My Stuff Bags Foundation or Bags 4 Kids
- Pillowcase Bags: Sew kid-friendly pillowcases with a drawstring or straps to give to foster kids a bag to use for their belongings instead of garbage bags. (An example from Mollie Makes)
What will you do to help out a child in the foster system?
Tell us your ideas!
Share with us your actions!
***A huge thank you to “Penny of Time” Adventuring Mom Christine for her awesome ideas and contributions to this post. And, a thank you to the friends and foster moms that helped verify which ideas are helpful and should be included!