It’s a life-changing decision to become a foster parent, providing a safe place and 24/7 support for children who have experienced abuse, neglect or other family challenges. It takes an enormous amount of patience and commitment, and not everyone is called to be a foster parent. Fostering is just one of many ways to help children in crisis, so here are seven other ways you can help a child in foster care:
1. Mentor a Teen
Children in foster care have likely experienced abuse, neglect, or some type of family trauma. Once they age out of the foster care system, these youth are also at a higher risk for homelessness, lack of education, unemployment, lack of access to healthcare, problems with law enforcement, and a myriad of behavioral and social issues. Each year, as many as 20,000 youth age out of foster care without a permanent family or home. Only 4% attend college and some end up in jail. You can help change these statistics by supporting and encouraging a young adult as they age out of foster care.
According to the MENTOR National, a nationwide initiative to increase mentoring of young people, young people with mentors are:
- 55% less likely than their peers to skip school
- 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to start drinking
- 81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities or sports
- 130% more likely to hold leadership positions
Mentors can provide needed support to teenage youth and help them learn daily living and vocational skills, budgeting, goal setting, time management, problem-solving and organizational skills. Most importantly, mentors give young people in the foster care system a caring adult they can look up to and share their problems with.
2. Provide Respite Care
Instead of taking a child into your home full-time, respite care providers give foster parents a short-term break, often for one night or a weekend. It’s an opportunity for you to do something similar to foster parenting for a short period of time and it’s a great way to see if foster parenting is right for you. Respite care providers bolster the foster care system by:
- Allowing foster parents a break, helping them to re-energize and avoid burnout
- Increasing likelihood for undisrupted placements
- Decreasing chances for neglect or abuse
- Helping children build good relationships with other caring adults and families
Respite care gives foster parents temporary relief from caregiving, allowing them to recharge and spend time with their families. Providing respite care requires training and licensing. Learn more by contacting an agency near you and start your journey to providing respite care today.
3. Assemble Welcome Boxes
Once a child is referred to KVC, we begin immediately working to match them with a loving foster family. KVC provides welcome boxes for children to take to this new foster home and occupy their time while waiting for placement. Imagine the anxiety a child feels after being removed from his or her home and moving somewhere new. Some children enter foster care with few or no belongings, so welcome boxes can contain a variety of items:
- Cozy blanket
- Personal hygiene items
- Toys or stuffed animals
- Coloring or activity books
If you are in one of the states where we provide foster care, contact our teams directly: Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky or West Virginia. If you are in another state, please contact your nearest state child welfare agency office. You might find this AdoptUSKids state directory helpful.
4. Attend or Sponsor a KVC Event
If you’re not called to be a foster parent, but you still want to use your personal resources to help a child in foster care, attending or sponsoring our events are great options. Events provide not only the opportunity to give directly to the programs and services offered at KVC, they also give you a chance to get to know others in your community who have a heart for helping children and families in crisis. Sponsorship opportunities are also available and are a great way to advertise your business while supporting a local cause.
KVC Health Systems typically holds three signature events throughout the year:
Funds raised through these events support our work strengthening families, preventing child abuse and neglect, and helping people experience mental health wellness. Our golf tournament in Nebraska helps to fund our KVC Nebraska Resource Family Conference (RFC), which provides the opportunity for foster families and families caring for people with disabilities through our Shared Living program to receive a weekend of inspiration and training.
Our local teams across the U.S. host other events throughout the year like 5K races, charity motorcycle rides, holiday parties, summer picnics and more. Visit our events page to keep up with our latest plans.
5. Donate Supplies
Many children in foster care have very few belongings. In addition to our welcome boxes, we gather clothing, personal hygiene items, toys, school supplies, and other items that children and teens might otherwise not have.
One specific donation that can greatly impact a child is the donation of a suitcase, duffel bag or backpack. While many of these kids do not have many belongings to begin with, no child should have to pack up all of their things into a trash bag. As they move to a new home or move to a different location, having a bag of their own gives them a more dignified way to transport anything they own.
At KVC, our big collection drives are in the fall and the winter, when we hold our Back-To-School Supply Drive and Holiday Heroes program. If you would like to participate, contact your nearest KVC office in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky or West Virginia to learn more.
6. Raise Funds or Make a Donation
For over 50 years, KVC has provided heart-centered service to children and families in crisis. We serve every family that comes to us. As such, we are always fundraising and accepting monetary donations in order to best serve these families. At KVC, we envision a world in which every child is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community. You can help make that vision a reality and support youth in foster care by raising money or making a donation. Below are a few ways you can do this…but the options are endless!
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising on Facebook
The next time you celebrate a personal milestone like a birthday, why not raise funds to support children in foster care in lieu of receiving gifts? The fundraising tools on Facebook are so simple and straightforward – you’ll be raising funds with just a few clicks. Find the step-by-step instructions here. When asked to select your nonprofit, simply select KVC Health Systems. Facebook will automatically send the funds raised to KVC.
Raise Funds When You Shop with Amazon Smile
If you like to shop on Amazon, you can raise funds with every purchase you make through Amazon Smile. Visit smile.amazon.com to sign up. Simply log in with your Amazon credentials and select KVC Behavioral HealthCare Inc. as your charity of choice. Amazon will automatically donate a small portion of the proceeds every time you make a purchase. Share this with your friends and family so they can effortlessly support children in foster care as well.
Become a Monthly Donor
Every day, across the United States, there are over 400,000 children involved in foster care. Every day these children require love, support and an opportunity to overcome obstacles and heal from trauma. You can support this healing by becoming an Everyday Hero. Our Everyday Heroes program is a monthly giving program for supporters who would like to consistently support the needs of our foster families—needs which can range from medical expenses to education to everyday needs such as a soccer uniform, a clarinet or a prom dress. You can learn more and sign up here
Make a Donation to KVC Today
If you’re looking for a way to make an immediate impact, make a donation to KVC today by visiting our secure donation page here. You can provide any amount you wish…and every dollar makes a difference to youth currently experiencing foster care.
7. Educate and Advocate
A great way to help a child in foster care is to learn more about the foster care process and to keep informed on challenges vulnerable families are facing in your community. Educating yourself and sharing with those in your circle spreads awareness and helps create a ripple effect of support for everyone affected. You can follow us on social media or subscribe to our blog to find educational information, along with inspiring stories of families and children who overcome immense challenges and go on to thrive.
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You can make a difference and help a child in foster care.
This list of ways you can offer your time and resources to children and families in need is not exhaustive. If you have it on your heart to serve, contact your nearest KVC office in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky or West Virginia to learn more about helping children and families in crisis.