Simple Things Mean a Lot to Foster Parents
Supporting foster parents is more than giving them a pat on the back or saying, “Let me know if you need anything.”
They’re parents just like us, and their children in foster care are just like yours – they flourish with love and inclusion, they love to have fun, and they need caring adults throughout their childhood.
Often when I see a friend struggling with the day-to-day strain of raising kids, I offer to take them off her hands for a few hours. I mean, a break is the biggest gift you can give, right? But that’s often not an option for children in foster care.
Each situation is so different. While some children would enjoy going on an adventure with you and your kids, other children may not be ready to go with yet another stranger.
So what other ways can we support our foster parent friends?
Foster parents need real, meaningful support from their friends, family and community.
Be a person who practices inclusion, advocacy, understanding, and compassion. Treat all children the same, whether or not they are in foster care – and learn the right way to say their names.
Local foster parents worked with Foster Kent Kids to create a list of 99 ways you can support them.
What to Say Besides “Let Me Know if You Need Anything”
And instead of asking if they need anything (they need ALL the things and wouldn’t even know where to start with that vague question), be specific.
The next time you head to the grocery store, text your friend and ask them what kind of milk you can grab for them or if they’re missing an ingredient or two for dinner.
It can be tough for all of us to stay on top of our essential needs, but it’s especially difficult for foster parents who may only have a few hours notice before a child’s arrival. Be a blessing to them and provide some essentials.
Take fresh fruits and vegetables to a foster family or deliver a freezer meal. Bring gently-used clothing in the correct sizes.
The goal here is to come up with ideas on your own of how to help your friend, and then offer these specific items. They may not always need them, but more often than not, you may be just the lifesaver they were looking for.
Perform an Act of Kindness
We all need kindness angels in our lives, but these little acts of kindness mean even more to foster families.
Mail encouraging notes and give thoughtful gifts to foster parents. Bring a cup of coffee the day after a placement. Offer free-babysitting and feed the kids dinner. Check in with your friend and ask how the placement is going.
Get your kids involved and have them draw pictures for the children you know who are in foster care.
Create Entertainment and Education Opportunities
Bouncing through the foster care system means these kids may not have the same experiences as other kids. Don’t forget that they are just kids, too.
Drop off games, puzzles, or art supplies to keep the kids busy. Invite kids in foster care to a game or craft night.
Have a local museum or zoo membership that allows you to bring an extra kid or two? Invite kids in foster care to explore these places with you!
Think of what you would have loved as a kid and offer it to the kids you know who are in foster care.
Give a Monetary Gift
Foster families may not have the extra funds to provide some of the extras that make life easier. If it’s in your budget, consider helping a foster family.
Gift a streaming or Shipt membership or give gift cards to restaurants or activities. Hire teenagers in foster care to do a job and pay them for it.