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5 Ways You Can Help a Child in Foster Care Without Being a Foster Parent

help a child in foster care

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 need, and here are five other ways you can help a child in foster care:

1. Mentor a Teen 
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. Mentors can provide extra support to teenage youth and help them learn daily living and vocational skills, budgeting, goal setting, time management, problem-solving and organizational skills. Mentors can help a teen know that they are important and promote their wellbeing as they transition into adulthood.

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2. Provide Respite Care
Fostering and providing care for children on a daily basis takes a big commitment. Why not consider respite care? Respite care providers give foster parents a break for one night or a weekend, so it’s similar to foster parenting but much shorter in length and a great way to see if foster parenting is right for you. Respite care gives foster parents temporary relief from caregiving, allowing them to rest and spend time with their families. If you are a trained respite caregiver, then you may qualify to provide evening or weekend care for a child that is living with another foster family.

3. Assemble Welcome Boxes
When a child enters foster care, KVC has four hours to match them with a foster family. Imagine the anxiety a child feels after being removed from his or her home and moving somewhere new. KVC provides welcome boxes for children to take to their new foster home and occupy their time while waiting for placement. Some children enter foster care with few or no belongings, so welcome boxes contain a variety of items such as clothing, activity books, toys, stuffed animals and personal hygiene items. If you are in one of the four 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/Sponsor a KVC Event
KVC Health Systems holds three signature events throughout the year: the KVC Kids Classic Golf Tournament Kansas City, the Hero Luncheon and The Gala. In addition to this, our local teams across the U.S. host events throughout the year like 5K races, charity motorcycle rides, holiday parties, summer picnics and more. Visit our events page to get more information. Sponsorship opportunities are also available and are great ways to advertise your organization while supporting a local cause.

5. Fundraise or Donate Supplies
Many children in foster care have very few belongings, and moving to a new home can be a difficult task. No child should have to pack up all of their belongings into a trash bag. By donating suitcases, duffel bags and backpacks, you give a child a dignified way to transport their belongings. You can further help a child in foster care by collecting clothing, personal hygiene items, toys, school supplies or making a monetary donation. You can also participate in our Back-To-School Supply Drive in the fall and Holiday Heroes program in the winter.

Contact your nearest KVC office in Kansas, MissouriNebraska, Kentucky or West Virginia to learn more about helping children in one of these ways.

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*Originally published April 2014, this article has been updated February 2019.