4 Steps to Support a Foster Family




Not everyone is in a good position to be a full time foster parent. In fact loads of people have their hands full with their biological kids, or their jobs, or their overactive Australian Shepherd puppy. I am a big fan of knowing your own limits and advocating for them. There are few benefits to be reaped from a reluctant parent. 


Don’t let your priorities get you down. If you understand the importance of those people in your community who do choose to be foster parents, you can help. Whether you cook a meal, donate money to a local agency that supports foster families, or organize a collection of diapers, toys or clothes for foster families, you can make a difference to the foster families in your area. 

Step 1: Figure out Who are You and Who is Around You.

Take stock of your talents and your community. Are you a baker, an organizer, can you get a discount on tickets to the local pirate mini-golf park with the life sized growling statue of Black Beard? All of these things can be put to good use by foster families in your community. Once you have an idea what you can contribute, look at those around you. Do you know of a foster family in your church? Maybe your child goes to school with a foster child. It can be difficult to find out through the grapevine who might be associated with foster care in your area. With the amount of trauma foster children already deal with, some anonymity can be a welcome relief. I would suggest keeping the poking around and obvious nosy questions to a minimum. If you don’t see any obvious foster families in your community, you can try doing some cold calling. 

Step 2: Make Some Calls to the Government Agency in Your Area

Initial numbers to call include your local Department of Human Services, Department of Child Services, Child Protective Services,  or whatever this government agency is called in your neck of the woods. The upside to this avenue is that this agency will definitely be connected with foster families. The downside is that often, state and local agencies like this are already overwhelmed dealing with the daily ins and outs of child protection. Don’t get too offended if these agencies brush you off. Just move on to your second batch of cold calls. 

Step 3: Get to Know Your GAL

These calls could be placed with your local CASA or Guardian ad Litem office. This office provides volunteers to research every foster care case in your area and provide the court with advice as to what the best path of action is for the foster children it is serving. Along with this vital service, CASA and GAL offices often connect foster children, foster families, and birth families with resources and support. They may know a family that can use your skill, or be able to connect you with an organization that you could work with. 


Step 4: Consult the Internet For Non-Profits

If you are still hitting dead ends, try Googling a local non-profit. You might find a Lutheran family services, or Methodist children’s home, or any number of foster and adoption connected organizations that happen to have a religion or denomination in their title. Often these organizations serve as a buffer between foster families and the local DSS. Even though many of them have religious sounding titles, most of them are open to working with people from other denominations, or with no denomination, especially if you are offering something that could benefit the foster families they work with. Ask them if one or more of them could use the service you are willing to offer, or if there is anything you could do for them and the families they represent. There may also be other non-profits that pop up in your search. Some of these may serve the same type of role the religious agencies do, while some of them may fill a specific need within the foster community. 


A Bonus for People Ready for the Next Step


Another way to support the full time foster families in your area is to offer your family as respite support for other foster families. Families that provide respite support receive identical training to what foster families receive. You will learn about trauma, and loss, racial differences and CPR. The Fire Marshall will pay you a visit to inspect your expertly drawn evacuation plan and social workers will stop by to make sure your child’s mattress is not placed directly on the floor. Once all the paperwork is complete and the visits are done, you will be able to provide a safe place for a foster child if their regular foster family needs to go out of state for a wedding or a funeral and they were unable to secure permission to take the foster child out of state. Maybe a foster family has been having a difficult time helping the foster child get along with other children in the home and the family and the foster child need a break from each other. You may provide a safe space for a weekend, or a week. This is a great way to see if being more involved in foster care might be right for you, but it also might be a great way to step in when you can and help foster parents. 


Whether your contribution is big or small, foster families need our support so they can continue to provide a safe place for the children in their care. You can help. Please take the time to see where your contribution could be used. 

Listen to the Podcast

How to Support Your Local Foster Family with Ashley

Sources For More Information

This article offers great suggestions to support the foster families you know


There are typical methods of helping mentioned here, and some you may not have thought of


Here are links to donate items like prom dresses or bikes among other things

(Photo byKindel Media fromPexels)

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