foster care awareness month

Hi there! First of all, sorry I have been a bit radio silent over here lately. There has been so much going on.. and I haven’t had the opportunity to sit and write.

May is a great month! One, because summer is around the corner. I LOVE SUMMER!

Another reason is because it is Foster Care Awareness Month. It is a time where a lot of people talk about the realities of what is going on around us in the foster care system. It is a month that for first time, many people find out what’s happening in their own backyards!

There are currently more than 430,000 children living within the American foster care system. In our backyard there are 2500 children in DCF Care.

If you are local to my area.. you can find the latest numbers here on this interactive map.

https://www.4kids.us/ClosetoHome

There are also hundreds of thousands of those children in foster care that are available to be adopted. Their cases are done.. they have no one.

I heard a crazy stat… that if just one family out of three churches would adopt one of thse children.. it would eliminate our orphans in America. Certainly three churches can come alongside one family and support them?

But.. it’s not happening. The average child waits THREE years to be adopted. Over 25% will wait FIVE years or more (and end up aging out of foster care).

So, each day this month on Facebook I have been sharing ideas of you can get involved.

I thought I would also put that list here.. so it’s easy to share and have all together. I will be adding to it each day this month. Maybe an idea or two will inspire you!

May 1-  First idea, and this is a fun and delicious one. Provide a meal once a month for a family who fosters. I can’t tell you how awesome it is when someone has done this for us. Whether it’s a home cooked meal, a gift card, or even someone picking up our bill when we are out to eat. It’s a little breath of encouragement!

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May 2– Buy Birthday or Christmas gifts for children in foster care. Contact local agencies and add them to your list of presents!

May 3- Here is Day 3! And it’s an easy one. Donate your gently used items you don’t need want or need anymore. A lot of us have been into simplifying and cleaning out. So give your items to places that will provide them to foster families!

Place of Hope, Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County, Inc , Community Of Hope Foster Closet are just some of the foster closets in our area. (If you know of others put them in the comments)

It’s so awesome as a foster parent to grab items you need for FREE when you take in a new child. My boys sleep on a donated bunk bed currently.

Treasures for Hope is a thrift shop that sells items with proceeds going to those in foster care. Win win. You clean out things and it benefits others!

 

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May 4- Pay for an activity for a foster child. Offer to pay for their music lessons or dance classes. Or maybe for them to play a season of soccer or baseball? These things get really expensive the more kids you have… so as a foster parent when someone takes the financial burden away for something like that… it’s so amazing! Plus, these kids should be able to be involved in extra curricular activities too! And if the other children in the home are doing them, it helps them to feel included.

If you don’t know a foster family personally… but your children are involved in extra curricular activities, maybe approach the director or owner and offer to them you are willing to help out if they know of a foster child. There are more foster families around then you think!

May 5- Offer a service to help out a foster family that will free up their time. For example, mowing/cleaning up their lawn, cleaning a pool, cleaning their home.. whether it’s you personally or you pay for a service for a little while, this is a huge help. Foster parents have extremely long days at times and have seasons where a lot of their time is just thrown into parenting children who have experienced horrible traumas. I know personally, those everyday house things can be hard to even manage in the midst of hard seasons (our pool may or may not be green currently.. and you don’t want to see my bathrooms 😬 lol).

If you own a pool or lawn company.. add that family to your rotation maybe once a month or every other. It does really help!

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May 6- Help watch the kiddos! This could look like a few different things…

Watch all the kids and let the parents go out or even get an overnight to themselves. This gives us a much needed break to breathe, talk, and regroup. What we do is so hard emotionally and physically.. we need breaks.

Now, I know from experience that sometimes babysitting without us there just doesn’t work and it’s only more stressful because we are worried how our foster child may respond to someone else… so in those seasons…

Be an extra pair of hands when foster families go somewhere – offer to come along to the zoo, to the playground, to the beach. It gives you an opportunity to get to know the kids more.. and it’s gives the parents some help!
I’m so thankful for the times our parents, siblings, or friends have come along to spend time with us. Especially if we have a child who is in a hard season.. it allows us to take the time we need to with that child to get them back on track without it impacting everyone else as much.

Just offer and see what happens!

May 7- This is an easy one. Talk about it.

We have a crisis and need in our area. 8-11 children are being removed from their homes daily in our county. And just in Palm Beach County alone there are currently over 1600 kids under DCF supervision.

Choose to be aware.
Choose to tell others.
Choose to share ways to help.
Choose to help yourself.

https://www.4kids.us/CloseToHome
https://www.fosterpalmbeach.org/
https://www.placeofhope.com/foster/

May 8- Pray. And pray intentionally and specifically. Get to know the families fostering or the children in the foster care system.
Pray for the parents.
Pray for the children.
Pray for the children that have come and gone.
Pray for our judges and lawyers and case workers.

Commit to prayer.

May 9- Where are all my teachers, retired teachers, or really anyone who can teach?

You can help out foster children by offering to tutor. These children have so much transition and trauma in their lives.. often times keeping up in school is nearly impossible. A tutor goes a long way! Even just someone to work with them on their homework!

May 10- Here is day 10 of ways you can get involved.

We have seen a lot of news stories like this one lately.

https://www.tallahassee.com/…/mother-and-boyfri…/1139919001/

The system failed to protect this child. It is broken.. and the system knows it. It’s overworked.. overloaded.

Take a minute today to contact your elected officials. Tell the people we vote for that something needs to change.

https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/…/Rep…/myrepresentative.aspx…

May 11-  This one isn’t easy. I say this to be real and honest.. but so worth it. It will open your eyes to things you never thought you’d see and feelings you never thought you’d feel.

Become a foster parent.

We need them so very badly!

One of the biggest impacts you can have on these kids to bring them in your home and love and care for them. Go to an orientation. Take that first step.

May 12- Pick up groceries or ask a foster family if they need to run an errand for them. Taking kids to the grocery store at times is near impossible.. someone calling up and saying.. “I have an hour, what I can get done for you today?” is a lifesaver!

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May 13- Many people have more space in their hearts and family to take in additional children.. but literally don’t have enough space.

So… you can help by providing more!

Buy a foster family a bigger car.
Build an addition on their home.
Sell your bigger home at a great price to a foster family.

Or organize a fundraiser to raise money towards things that will provide more space!

I know from experience.. Foster parents feel bad to ask about those kinds of things.. but they would be a HUGE blessing.

 

May 14- It is a simple one.. but send a quick note or message to encourage a foster family. This journey is not easy.. but knowing others are thinking and praying for you is huge!

May 15- Donate bags and items towards Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County, Inc emergency bags.

Most of the time when children get removed.. it’s quick and they come without the every day items they need. These bags are an awesome gift!

May 16- Become a GAL. A Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for foster children. They are a voice. They represent them in court and build a personal relationship with them and those involved in their case. If you aren’t in a position to foster or adopt.. but want to help make a real difference, this is it.

It’s maybe 10 hours a month. So you can do this while working or if you have your own children!

To learn more.. visit Guardian ad Litem Program-Palm Beach County, Floridaor Speak Up for Kids Palm Beach County

 

May 17- Mentor a young adult who has just aged out of foster care. If you are looking for a local connection, contact Villages of Hope. The stats are not good for children who come out of foster care. 20% end up homeless instantly. Less than 3% graduate from college. 7 out of 10 girls who age out of foster care become pregnant.. which keeps the cycle going. Many of these children will be arrested and serve time. They need a stable adult who can help them learn. Would you consider?

May 18th- Write a number. Write 1600 on your hand. When other’s ask, explain that is how many children are in foster care here in Palm Beach County. Tell them about some of the things you have learned! Spread the word!

May 19th- Be patient with foster children. These children come from some hard places. They may have only felt rejection. If you volunteer at a church, coach a team, work in a school, shop at the store… please be patient. A little kindness and understanding goes a LONG way.

May 20th- Buy diapers and wipes and donate them to a local Foster
Closet. Foster babies need them! You can help provide them!

May 21st- Donate your airline miles to a foster family so they can go on a trip. Or maybe pay for a gas card? Traveling with extra children is more expensive.. but can also create really memorable experiences for these kids!

May 22- This goes out to my fellow foster parents… let someone know when you need a break! Reach out to someone when you need a shoulder to cry on. Too often we think because this is something we signed up for (literally.. we signed so many things)… that we need to keep the hardships to ourselves. Kinda that “you made your bed, now lay in it mentality.” Listen just because we knew this would be hard.. doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel like it at times. Send an SOS… we all have our moments we need them!
May 23- Did you know that the graduation rate for children in foster care is right at 50%? Can you imagine being 18-20 and living in a group home or on your own and having no one to celebrate the fact that you successfully completed high school or college? Imagine no more, Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County, Inc is having a graduation party for the 35 foster children who are graduating from high school or college this year. All of their resources will be used to get laptops for these children so if you have any left over graduation decorations that you will just throw out after the festivities are over, would you be willing to give them? They are also collecting gift cards to give them for teen friendly places like Starbucks, Dunkin, Gamestop, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Mcdonalds,Burger King, Wendy’s, Papa John’s, Amazon, etc. Head over to their FB Page for more info!

May 24- Donate your formal wear… from prom, weddings, cruises, etc. This will give foster teens a chance to shop for free for their big events.

May 25- If you see something, do something. Sometimes people are struggling. They need help. Get to know others in our community. Maybe your help or relationship can prevent their children having to be removed. Sometimes kids can’t speak for themselves… so say something (report it if needed). Maybe it can prevent further abuse or neglect. Please just choose to do something.

May 26– Mamas… done having kiddos? Donate your maternity clothes to Place of Hope JoAnn’s cottage. This is a home for foster teens who are expecting.

May 27- Donate your luggage or duffles. Unfortunately, many foster children have to bounce around due to placement issues. They need bags to be able to carry their possessions. Foster families and Emergency shelters always need extra bags or luggage to be able to send with children when they leave.

May 28- Are you great at organizing? Contact a local foster closet like Community Of Hope Foster Closet Group Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County, Inc and more… Let them know you are willing to come in and help sort and organize donations!

May 29- Host a Date Night! Get with your friends, line up a bunch of volunteers and a location… and offer to watch children for foster parents so they can get a dinner out by themselves.

May 30- Be an Advocate at your church for Foster Care. Talk to your church leadership about the ways your church family can get involved.

May 31- Check out the book, Everyone Can Do Something by Jason Johnson here. Maybe it will spark some fresh and even better ideas of ways you can support foster children and families where you are.

 

Thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing the love you will show and the differences it will make!

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