Foster care is a silent epidemic that is overtaking so many lives. Over 440,000 children and youth have been removed from their homes and experienced immense trauma. Children being born into a survival situation. Youth who are susceptible to moving schools more than seven times before they graduate. I have wept for the souls of children and youth that want to be loved and cared for yet cannot find a loving home to take them.
Scripture calls every Christ-follower to care for the vulnerable (James 1:27; Isaiah 1:17). It is important to note that children and youth in foster care are among the most vulnerable populations in the United States. If we turn a blind eye to these children’s needs, are we not turning a blind eye to Christ Himself (James 2:15-16)?
What Can I Do?
With an overwhelming desire to help, I often hit a dead end when exploring my options. I considered myself ‘too young’ as a college student to do anything about it. I longed to be older so that I could foster a child/youth or get my degree to become a social worker. However, throughout my college career, the Lord has corrected a lie that I believed so deeply.
In 1 Timothy 4:12, it writes,
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” For so long, I thought that I was too young or unqualified to serve children/youth in foster care and foster care families.
Yet in Scripture, the Lord clearly states that I should not allow my age to restrain my heart to help.
With this verse in mind, I set out to explore all the different opportunities in which I could serve children and youth in foster care and foster families. While I may be too young to foster a child and do not have my degree yet, I have found that I can still volunteer my time and gifts into changing the trajectory of children/youth and families involved in foster care.
Serving Foster Youth and Families
Over time, I have learned that every person in this world can serve the foster care community in some capacity. Even if you feel like what you can do is only something small in the grand scheme of life, it is something, and something is better than nothing. The Lord is pleased with any sacrifice that seeks to do good and share with others (Hebrews 13:16).
If you are reading this and feel like you are too young, unqualified, or not in the right position to foster a child, here are a few areas you could still serve:
Connect with a Local Agency
Research and find local child placement agencies in your area. Once you have connected with an agency, there are many opportunities to serve. Things such as working programs, events, or fundraisers, as well as assisting in the office or helping foster families with transportation.
School Supply Drives
As we are nearing a new school year, find a program near you that packs backpacks full of school supplies for children in foster care. Or donate school supplies to a ministry that is serving those in foster care.
Find a local mentoring program to speak life into a child or youth in foster care. Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). A CASA is a volunteer who is authorized by a court to speak on behalf of a child in foster care. To learn more about CASA, click here.
Serve Through your Gifts
Blessed with different gifts, each person can serve in different ways. Whether you are an incredible cook, a talented writer, or have a passion for kids, use your gifts to serve the foster care community around you. Offer to cook meals for foster families. Write encouraging notes to social workers in your area. Babysit for foster families.
Educate & Advocate
Use your voice and raise awareness of the current state of the foster care system. Read stories of former foster children, talk to foster care parents, and listen to present updates on child welfare. These children need to be heard but have little voice. We must speak up.
Pray for the children and youth in foster care who are scared and unfamiliar with their surroundings. For peace and protection over the lives of these children who have experienced indescribable pain. Pray for the families who have sacrificed things to bring a child or youth from foster care into their homes. For strength and endurance as they fight for the well-being of the child in their homes.