6 Ways to Encourage a Foster Care Family

Many of you know that my family is licensed for foster care. Although I do not live at home anymore, I try to have an active role in the lives of the kiddos. Currently, my parents are on placement number 5, a sweet little girl. My parents tend to have longer term placements, although they never know how long the kiddos will be with them. Although we have only been a foster family, we have learned a number of things about how quickly life changes when a kiddo arrives in our home. My time in Human Services classes has also given me insight into what support foster families need, not just from their agencies, but from their communities. Admittedly, my perspective comes from being in a foster family with small kiddos, but some things may translate to other ages!

1. Donate clothes/shoes/blankets/stuffed animals.

My parents are licensed for girls birth-age 5. Many kiddos come into our home with just a small bag of belongings. It is very helpful to have a variety of clothes in each size, so we are always prepared. If a child comes without a special blanket or stuffed animal, we try to let them pick one if they wish. Many families are overrun with clothing in good condition that your children have outgrown, and this is a very easy way to help out!

2. Bring a meal over.

Friends often make meals for each other when a new baby enters the world. Although the arrival of a foster child is not quite as tumultuous, the first few days can be a bit hectic for all involved. Many times, a child needs to attend a number of appointments and visits in the first few days. A warm meal can make the difference between a stressful evening and calm family time.

This is also a kind gesture when a foster chid (especially long term placements) leave the home. That can also be a rough adjustment for the foster family, and reaching out with a meal is a wonderful way to show support.

3. Offer to babysit.

We love the time we spend with our kiddos. They become a part of our family. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to take a foster child with us (going to Canada or a doctor's appointment, for instance). Also, there are times in which a foster family could greatly benefit from having a night off. Having a friend or family member who is willing to spend a few hours with a kiddo is a gift to foster families.

4. Be informed.

People who have misinformed or inaccurate ideas about foster care can be a discouragement to foster families. It's perfectly fine to disagree with "the system," but remember that a great deal of foster families do what they do (which is far from easy) because they want to make a difference in the life of a child.

5. Respect confidentiality, but offer a listening ear. 

Foster families are unable to share many details about the kiddo in care (for the best reasons, of course!). However, this does not prevent a foster parents from needing to vent and share her frustrations and victories. The best people for this are those who are able to offer support without asking a dozen questions about the case.

6. Become a foster parent!

I am incredibly encouraged whenever I hear someone is interested in becoming a foster parent. It's not meant for everyone, but taking a big step out of your comfort zone can mean the world to a child in need.


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