May is National Foster Care Month, and even if you aren’t a foster parent, it’s something to celebrate! Admittedly, I may be slightly biased as a foster and adoptive mama myself, but today I want to share a couple of reasons why National Foster Care Month is worth celebrating, as well as six ways to do just that – even if you aren’t a foster parent yourself!
Currently, there are approximately 440,000 children in foster care in the United States alone. 110,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. That’s a staggering number of children in need of a stable, loving environment for a country whose population is 328 million. And even if you don’t feel called to become a foster parent, there are lots of ways you can make a difference in the lives of those kids and families currently in the system.
Learn more about foster care
Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to foster care! One of the best (and easiest) ways to celebrate National Foster Care Month is simply to learn more about foster care. There are so many easy ways to do this, especially in the age of social media. Follow some foster moms on Instagram who are sharing their journeys online. You can also learn a lot by tuning into a podcast about foster care. Some of my favorites are The Real Mom Podcast, The Forgotten Initiative, and The Fearless Fostering Podcast. Intentionally seeking out information about what it’s like to be a foster parent or former foster youth will open your heart and mind to what those experiences are really like.
Bring a meal to a foster family
This is an often overlooked way to help and support the foster care community. Seriously, name one mom that is ever going to turn away free dinner! Being a foster parent is a blessing, but it can also be stressful at times. Cooking someone a meal (or even just ordering one for them!) is a sweet and easy way to show that you care. If bringing someone dinner isn’t your thing, consider babysitting for a night so the parents can have a date night. Again, who is going to turn down that offer? 🙂
Share about National Foster Care Month on social media
This is perhaps the easiest way to celebrate National Foster Care Month – if you learn something new or interesting about foster care, share it! Raising awareness is so important to the foster care community. As more and more people become aware of the need for more foster families in their community (and trust me, there is ALWAYS a need for more foster families in EVERY community!), perhaps more of them will be encouraged to investigate fostering in their own family. So do a little research and share what you find out; it won’t take very long, and it will let your friends and followers have the opportunity to learn more about foster care as well.
Write an encouraging card to a mom whose kids are in foster care
This one may be a little bit out of your comfort zone, but hear me out: mothers whose kids have been removed from their home are hurting deeply. Most of them are working hard to get their children back, but oftentimes, it’s a long and difficult road. Additionally, one of the factors that contributes most to a child being placed into foster care is lack of support from family and friends. That means these moms are doing a lot of difficult things, with the odds mostly stacked against them, and they’re doing it alone. Consider how much it would mean to drop off some Mother’s Day cards to your local DCF office with some words of encouragement inside. Imagine how it might feel for them to know that someone is rooting for them, and wishing them the best on their journey to reunification. If you’re feeling extra motivated, why not get together with some friends and fill out a bunch of cards together? You’ll be increasing your impact and having a great time doing so.
Attend a foster care open house
If you’ve ever been curious about the process of foster care, or simply wondered if it was right for your family, why not sign up to attend a foster care open house at a local agency or DCF office. While this is typically the first step in becoming a foster parent, you certainly aren’t obligated to become one simply by attending this initial meeting. It will, however, give you the chance to get your questions answered and learn about more ways you can help support foster children in your community, even if you aren’t interested in fostering yourself.
Email or call your DCF office and ask how you can help
If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate National Foster Care Month, send an email or make a call to your local DCF office (or private agency) and ask how you can help. They often have wish lists for things like diapers, formula, clothes, and toys. They likely also have ways for you to donate money for foster kids to go to summer camp, have birthday parties, or be involved in extracurricular activities . They will be thrilled that you are reaching out to help, and will be more than happy to share with you several ways to do so; you’ll be sure to find a way that feels right for you.
I hope this post has encouraged you to find a way to celebrate National Foster Care Month with your family this year. It’s also a great opportunity to get your children involved by sharing about the needs of kids just like them in your community that need some extra love and support. Why not choose one of these ways to celebrate together, and make it a family affair? Your whole family will benefit by learning more about foster care and doing something to support foster families together. Happy National Foster Care Month!
*This post was written in collaboration with Zulily.