We can all love kids in care better when we love them together. Here are some ideas about ways you can get involved. Some are St Louis-focused. Search in your area to see what opportunities exist near you!
Launched in early 2013 in connection with The Journey Church, ReSource provides clothing to children who come into foster care in St. Louis and its surrounding areas. Generous people (like you) donate cute stuff and families come “shop” for whatever they need, purchasing it at no cost. It primarily focuses on clothing and shoes, but also accepts car seats and strollers.
For more info, find ReSource on facebook at: ReSource: Foster and Adoptive Family Support-STL
GRANT A LITTLE WISH
Through the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, Little Wishes can be granted to children in foster care, allowing them to make special memories with their foster family. Examples include dance lessons, special gifts like a basketball hoop, or experiences like a zoo membership.
Wishes often help strengthen sibling bonds when they live in separate foster homes (e.g., a sibling visit to Six Flags or Chuck E. Cheese) or give children opportunities they might not otherwise have.
Granting a Little Wish typically costs $75-200.
For more info: www.foster-adopt.org
Organized by the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, Foster Friends enrich the lives of children in foster care by hosting fun events and activities to help make their time in foster care as enjoyable as possible.
As a Foster Friend, you interact directly with foster/adopted children through special volunteer opportunities every few months. Foster Friends support Parents’ Night Out events, providing supervision to foster/adoptive children during events held during the day or evening so their parents can enjoy a little time off.
The time commitment varies depending on your availability. Many friends attend one or two events each year for 3-5 hours.
For more info: www.foster-adopt.org
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are volunteers who provide a powerful voice for one child in and out of court, affecting critical decisions made on his or her behalf. They are often the only people connected with a child throughout their entire time in care. Advocates act as a communications link in the child welfare system, ensuring the child’s voice is heard and the judge is kept apprised of the status of the child’s progress.
On average, a CASA advocate will spend 10-15 hours per month on case-related activities. The scheduling of most activities can be flexibly fit into your schedule.
For more info: www.voices-stl.org
Respite care is short term care provided to a foster or adopted child by someone other than their primary caregivers (i.e. foster parents, adoptive parents, or kinship parents). It gives parents and children the chance to have short, regular periods of time apart in which they can rest and recharge.
It enhances the quality of care for the child, gives parents a necessary break, and ensures healthy and stable placements for all children by preventing parental exhaustion and burnout.
For more info: contact Family Resource Center, (314) 534-9350
Foster Parents provide a safe place for children to live for the short-term when their biological parents are unable, unwilling or unfit to care for a child. For foster children, the goal is always a return to permanency: either their biological families (once rehabilitated) or an adoptive family.
In some cases, there is little or no chance a child can return to their parents’ custody. In other situations, children only a need a temporary home until their parents’ situation changes. In any event, children need somewhere to stay until a permanent home is possible.
Foster parents are licensed by the State of Missouri, following a 30 hour class called STARS. Foster care is a full-time responsibility. However, the State covers all childcare expenses (including daycare), all medical expenses, mileage over 30 miles, as well as all therapy expenses. Foster parents receive 12 days of respite time off.
For more info: www.frcmo.org
These are just idea-starters. The point is that no matter how much time or money we have, we can love foster kids and families tangibly. And meaningfully. Together.