We all know that foster and adoptive parents are not superheroes! They need the support of their friends, family, and community so that the kids in their care thrive.
Here are 7 ways you can support a foster family near you.
#1 Invite Them into Your Community.
Foster families need you in their lives. Remember, it can be stressful for parents to leave the kids with someone they don't know so get to know them first, then offer to do things like:
Visit the zoo/aquarium
Storytime at the library
Picnic in the park
Come to your home for a meal
#2: Educate and involve your own kids.
Kids in foster care may struggle to have relationships with kids in more stable environments. Kids that are welcoming and accepting can sometimes encourage other kids better than any adult can.
#3: Celebrate a New Placement
Take your cue from the parents. If needed, acknowledge the new arrival in a quiet, respectful way.
Send a card of congratulations/welcome.
Send a meal.
Send an age-appropriate toy for the child and biological children.
However, if the parents are overjoyed and ready to celebrate a new member of their family, throw a party!
#4: Grieve With Them on Tough Days
Saying goodbye to a child you’ve had the privilege of parenting is tough! When a child moves on to a new placement or gets to go home to his first family, foster parents need someone to acknowledge and validate their grief. Don't forget it's also hard on the other children in the family.
You can be a support on the hard days by:
Let them know you care.
Sit with them and let them express their emotions.
Provide some type of a treat for the kids before they leave.
#5: Provide Them With Children’s Basic Needs
Be a shopper when it counts! There's always lots to do when a new placement comes into a home. Grab the list and go to work. The time and energy you save for the foster parents will be invaluable. Amazon Wishlist is a great tool for this!
#6: Become a Respite Provider
This is a great option if you have an extra bedroom or two in your home but are not in the position to commit to a long-term placement due to work or family obligations. Get qualified and trauma-trained so you can help when needed.
#7: Provide a Helping Hand to the Biological Parents
Many parents who have temporarily lost custody of their children have the potential to be good parents; they may just need a helping hand.
Consider helping by:
Helping the biological parents find a stable job.
Mentoring them on financial matters.
Providing transportation to required services and meetings.
Providing tangible needs so their home is safe and welcoming for their child. (Beds, Dressers, smoke detectors, etc)
Helping them find a safe place to live.
Do you have other ideas that would help out a foster family in your community? Share your ideas in the comments.