The sheer number of children in foster care can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of things you can do right now to make a difference.
God’s Word gives Christians a clear command to care for vulnerable children (James 1:27), and there are many ways to get involved. Whatever path you decide to take, we hope you see the face of Christ in the children and families you serve.
Nearly 440,000 children in the United States are in foster care today. There are immeasurable benefits when children are taken in by nurturing and loving caregivers. Ask God how He might use your family to bless a child in need of a safe place to live. Learn more about foster care in your area.
Every child deserves to be raised by a safe, loving family. More than 110,000 children throughout the United States are waiting for permanent adoptive families.* These children are currently in the custody of state agencies, which means that their only permanent parent is the state in which they live. The thought of being welcomed into a family seems like a dream for most of them, but taking into account that there are more than 300,000 churches in the United States, that dream doesn’t seem quite so far out of reach. Learn more about the adoption journey.
3. Provide Respite Care
Foster and adoptive parents need time away to rest, reduce stress, or simply be restored. Whether it’s a few hours a week or one day a month, respite care offers these families an occasional and much-needed break from their responsibilities. There are formal and informal ways of providing respite care. You can ask a foster or adoptive family how you can best serve them, or use the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to find local agencies that can connect you with information on how to become a respite care provider.
4. Wrap Around a Family
Any family that welcomes home a new child needs the support of their friends, family, and community. This is especially true of foster and adoptive families. If you can cook, clean, drive or baby-sit, you can be a huge help to these families. Check out some ideas of how to support foster and adoptive families here and make a difference today.
5. Be an Advocate
The role of a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) is to represent the best interests of a child in foster care. CASA volunteers commit to spending time with that child and gathering information from everyone involved in that child’s life. CASAs are expected to provide additional information to the courts as they make decisions that will impact the child’s life. Get more information about volunteering from the National CASA Association.
6. Engage Your Church
Stand Sunday, is about “rousing believer with God’s call to care for children and youth in foster care”. It is typically held the second week of November during National Adoption month. If you want to get involved, start by meeting with your pastor to talk about the importance of ministering to foster and adoptive families or by asking the church to dedicate a weekend (such as Stand Sunday) to raising awareness about the number of children in need of temporary and permanent families. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8, NIV).
Your prayers have an impact. Gather with your small group or family to pray for the children, their birth families, caseworkers, the courts, and a host of others who all affect the life of a child involved in the foster care system. For specifics on how to pray, Focus on the Family has created a Foster Care Prayer guide.
8. Mentor or Tutor
Investing your time, lending a listening ear, and sharing your advice, gifts, and talents with young adults preparing to age out of foster care will benefit them for a lifetime. Building relationships at any stage of life is difficult for many of them but having a caring adult in their life can help make the difference in leading them down the path to a positive future.
Academics are often a challenge for children who typically change schools frequently. Your support in helping a child read, gain comprehension skills, understand math concepts, or even simply complete homework assignments can help remove barriers to success at school.
9. Volunteer at Camp
Every summer Royal Family Kids holds camps across the country. They are one-week, faith-based summer camps for children ages 7-11 who have experienced abuse and neglect. In one year, 214 camps in the United States relied on over 14,000 volunteers to host 8,846 children. What difference does one week make? Children’s smiles are deeper, their faces softer and more open. It is joy, pure joy.
10. Donate to Make a Difference
Another way to make a difference is by donating items. There are several different ways to do this. For example, many child placement agencies do school supply drives in the summer before school starts. Some have Amazon wish lists where you can purchase items they need.
In some areas, that are groups that have set up a network that match the needs of children and families with people who can meet them. One organization, Orphan Care Alliance, does this in Kentucky with an online portal program called Gateway.
Another need is for suitcases or bags. When children enter the child welfare system, they often have little time to gather their things. Let alone have a proper way to carry them. It is not unusual for a child to have to use a trash bag. At Focus on the Family, we partner with local agencies across the country to provide a new suitcase, stuffed animal, and an age-appropriate Bible to children entering care. We are able to do this through the generous giving of our donors. Learn more about this program.