Parenting is a monumental task. Being a foster parent can add challenges. Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide meaningful support. You can! Even small things can have a significant impact. When you support foster parents, you provide stability to children and youth in care.
There are multiple ways the community can join together to show love, encouragement, and practical support to foster families. Continue reading to learn how you can help foster parents.
- Feed Them
You can stock their freezer with prepared meals, deliver a basket of yummy treats, or enjoy a coffee break with a foster parent to lighten their work. Another option is to invite the family to your home for a meal. It can be as simple as a pizza night that the children and adults will appreciate.
- Provide Supplies
Take a proactive approach and ask what the family might need before a new child arrives. What they need will depend on the child’s age, but it could include anything from diapers to books. If you can’t provide what they need, consider asking friends or community members to pitch in.
- Welcome a Child or Children
It can be overwhelming when a child joins a foster family — for the child in care, the foster parents, and other children in the home. Have a conversation with the foster parents to learn how you can best help with the transition. It might include a small gift for the child or family.
- Get a Background Check
The laws vary for each state, but if your state requires that people who interact with children in care undergo a background check, letting foster parents know you’re willing to do it signals your commitment to provide support. Although there are many things you can do without getting a background check, having one means you can serve as a backup should the need arise.
- Offer Respite Care
Respite is a more formal and regular type of childcare. Frequently, it includes providing overnight care so foster families can rest, recharge, and reconnect with their core family. An ideal arrangement would be for you to offer respite care regularly (one weekend a month, every other Saturday afternoon, etc.) and with the same family.
- Provide Transportation
It’s not unusual for children in care to have many appointments. You can be a big help by offering to shuttle foster parents and the children to those appointments to give them a break. An added bonus is that it gives you more time to spend with your friends and an opportunity to get to know the children better.
- Check-In Regularly
Foster parents deal with an overwhelming amount of logistics and complicated schedules. They can also feel isolated. Check-in with them as often as you can to offer a listening ear and a safe space for them to vent, cry, laugh, and share whatever’s on their mind.
- Run Errands or Help With Housework
Sometimes an extra set of hands are what’s needed most. Offer to do errands, like a grocery store run, prescription pick-ups, etc. If you don’t have time, you could have supplies from Amazon delivered. Fold laundry, wash the dishes, read a story to a child, or sit with a foster parent for a few minutes for a chat.
- Fundraise or Donate
If you don’t have a direct connection to a foster family, you can still donate supplies, fundraise, or donate for a local foster care organization. Often, children in care have few possessions and need school supplies, toys, clothing, personal care items, and even suitcases. Check with your local agency to see what’s needed most.
Consider Becoming an SOS Foster Parent
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, consider signing up with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. One thing that sets SOS Illinois apart from traditional foster care is full-time, professional Foster Parents. The SOS Illinois model places Foster Parents in single-family homes in one of its Villages, where up to six children, ranging in age from infants to young adults, call home.
Change a Child’s Life Today!
If you decide that becoming a foster parent is not for you, there are many other ways to support foster children and other foster parents. Donations change lives! You can also help by participating in an SOS Illinois fundraising event or contributing to our Amazon wish list. The generosity of donors has enabled us to provide safe, stable, loving homes for thirty years.