Follow Up: Foster Care
A few weeks ago we kicked off an informational meeting for foster care in West Seattle. We asked congregations to join the conversation - how can the Church assist the foster care system in the Department of Social Health Services in West Seattle? Jen Browning led the discussion and shared different levels of engagement from assembling care kits, volunteering as an “Office Mom or Dad” and fostering a child.
One organization that is helping to inform and educate on opportunities is Fostering Together.
They have put together a wonderful one-sheet of ways to serve:
Provide Care for a Foster Child – Provide a safe, loving home, stability or in the case of adoption, permanency In-Home or Licensed Respite: Provide relief care in foster family’s home or your own home
Receiving/Emergency Care – Provide care when a child is first removed from their home Short Term/Long Term Care: Provide care for various periods of time Foster-Adopt/Adoption: Provide a forever home for a child in need of a family.
Assist a Foster Child – Provide items, opportunities or encouragement
School – Donate supplies, tutor, help carpool and help with expenses (ie. ASB, Yearbooks, pictures, field trips)
Sports – Sponsor for a team or sports camp, provide sports equipment, volunteer as a coach Clubs: Sponsor for a membership in a club (ie. 4-H, Boy/Girl Scouts) Clothing: Provide clothing for Special Events (ie. Prom, school/sports uniforms)
Extra-Curricular – Help provide learning opportunities (ie. music, art, dance, swim, cooking, fishing, etc).
Assist a Foster Family – Creative ways to support the entire family, many of whom have children of their own.
Become a Big Brother/Big Sister (for more information visit http://www.bbbs.org)
Babysit their children so they can go on a date in order to keep their marriages strong and healthy
Deliver a cooked meal OR invite them over for a meal
Host a shower for a new foster child or when they adopt (not all children come as babies!)
Provide household help such as cleaning, laundry, yard work or home maintenance projects
Purchase Gift Cards for things like gas, groceries, clothing, restaurants or the movies
Provide a family outing or get-away (ie. donate a vacation rental or use of a cabin, play/sports tickets)
Sponsor a family membership to a zoo, museum, YMCA or amusement park (the fun lasts all year!)
Provide items for families getting licensed (furniture, fire escape ladders, diapers, formula, toys, bikes)
Ask how you can help them (this list is not meant to be exhaustive as every family has different needs)
Donate Items and Services to groups providing support to foster families
Provide a monthly meal for a Foster Parent Support Group (contact facilitator for more information)
Donate door prizes to Support Groups or agencies hosting fund raising events for foster care/adoption
Provide trainings for foster parents (this can be done through our existing network of support groups)
Offer your building for family visitations, trainings, meetings, support groups
Host a Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner in May, Christmas Party, Summer Picnic, etc.
Provide PRO BONO work (dental/orthodontia, counseling, haircuts, drivers education)
Volunteer with Community Partnerships – ways to get involved in your community
Be an ambassador for foster care/adoption in order to help raise awareness for the needs of foster children
Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)- speak in court on a foster child’s behalf
Volunteer at a local foster/adopt agency to assist them in meeting the needs of foster children and their families
Join a DCFS Family to Family Group as a Community Member. Contact your local DCFS Office for more info.
Be a Community Member at a FTDM (Family Team Decision Meeting) in order to provide input on a case
We are encouraged four churches from West Seattle were represented at the meeting and would love to offer the same information for anyone in King County who also would like to know how to help. Please contact Jen Browning to set up a time with your church, small group, or network. We look forward to hearing from you.
-Nathan A. Ryan