For lovers of lists who also have an interest in foster care, this is my “Ultimate List of Opportunities” to get involved in helping vulnerable children and families. They are separated by general categories but as you no doubt will notice, there is some overlap. Some suggestions may not apply to your community or your life circumstances. The good news is that, with 101 included you are sure to find something that ‘fits’. Just look for the statement(s) in bold that describe(s) your situation. Above all, I want to emphasize,
A. I have space in my heart and/or home and I’m interested in getting actively involved in foster care now.
1. Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Volunteer
2. Become a Foster Parent
3. Become a Foster Grandparent
4. Provide Respite Foster Care
5. Serve as a Guardian for a Child/Youth in the Foster Care System
6. Become Licensed to Provide Care for a Child/Youth in Your Extended Family who is at Risk of Placement with a Non-Relative
7. Adopt a Child from the Foster Care System
8. Volunteer on a Local Foster Care Review Board
9. Become a “Grand-Friend” to Foster Child/Youth by Attending Their School Activities, Sporting Events, Concerts, Etc.
B. I have reliable transportation and am able to assist with getting around.
10. Transport Children for Sibling Visitations
11. Transport Parents/Children to Visits
12. Transport Families/Children to Court Hearings
13. Transport Families/Children to Medical Appointments
14. Transport Families/Children to Therapy Sessions
15. Transport a Child/Youth in Foster Care to School
16. Offer to Carpool with Foster Parents in Your Neighborhood
17. Transport a Child/Youth in Foster Care to and from Extra-Curricular Activities
18. Provide Transportation to Former Foster Youth in College to/from School
C. I have skills or talents to share with foster children, teens, or families.
19. Provide an Internship Opportunity to a Foster Youth at Your Employment
20. Mentor a Child/Youth in Foster Care
21. Proofread Papers/Help with Homework For a Youth in Foster Care
22. Chaperone/Assist with an Event (Picnic, Sledding) for Foster Families
23. Tutor a Child or Youth in Foster Care
24. Help a Foster Youth Prepare for ACT/College Entrance Exams
25. Teach Financial Literacy to Youth in Foster Care
26. Teach Independent Living Skills (such as Cooking, Shopping, and Using the Laundromat) to Youth in Foster Care
27. Hire and Teach a Foster Youth to do Household Maintenance, Yard Work, Snow Shoveling, etc.
28. Teach a Youth in Foster Care How to Drive
D. My resources are limited but I have time to devote to helping those in foster care.
29. Provide After-School Care for a Foster Family
30. Read to a Child in Foster Care
31. Assist a Foster Parent with Child Care
32. Call Your Local Child Welfare Office to Volunteer to Assist with Administrative Tasks
33. Volunteer to Serve as an Educational Advocate (Sometimes Called Surrogates) for Students Receiving Special Education Services
34. Invite a Foster Child/Youth New in Your Neighborhood to Play Basketball or Soccer, attend a Ball Game, or Other Community Event
35. Assist a Local Shelter or Residential Program By Supervising Outings or Group Activities
36. Ask Your Church or Other Social Organizations to Sponsor a Foster Family
37. Sponsor a Support Group for Foster Parents/Children (provide space, coffee, food, supplies)
38. Talk with Your Local School About Unmet Needs (Time or Resources) of Enrolled Foster Children
39. Encourage a Child/Youth in Foster Care to Participate in Community Events
40. Accompany Foster Child/Youth to Plays, Sports Events, Musical Performances
41. Prepare a Special Meal for a Foster Family
E. My time is limited but I have financial and other resources to share.
42. Buy Back-to-School Clothes for a Foster Child/Youth
43. Buy Back-to-School Supplies for a Foster Child/Youth
44. Pay Extra-Curricular Fees for a Child/Youth in Foster Care
45. Support a Local Angel Tree Program During the Holidays
46. Provide Prom Dress or Tuxedo for Foster Youth
47. Sponsor a Foster Child to Attend Pre-school or a Day Care Program
48. Sponsor a Foster Child/Youth to Take Part in a Community Summer Program
49. Pay Fees/Provide Spending Money for a Senior Trip/Vacation for a Youth in Foster Care
50. Donate New or Used Clothing in Good Condition to a Clothes Closet for Foster Care Providers
51. Donate New or Used Bicycles, Skateboards, and Other Recreational Equipment to a Foster Care Program
52. Donate Musical Instruments to Children/Youth in Foster Care
53. Donate to Local Foster Care Programs
54. Donate to Organizations Providing Advocacy for Children/Youth in Foster Care
55. Give a Baby Bed or Other Furniture to a New Foster Parent
56. Purchase Diapers, Formula, or Baby Food For a New Foster Parent
57. Provide Uniform to Foster Youth for Sports, Band, or Other Activities
58. Sponsor a Child/Youth to Attend Summer Camp
59. Buy Art Supplies for Children/Youth in Foster Care
60. Provide Membership Fees to Local YMCA/YWCA or Rec Center
61. Provide Membership to Local Museums, Zoos, Etc.
62. Buy Bus/Public Transit Passes for Foster Families
F. My interest is in helping young adults with career preparation and transitioning to independence.
63. Donate Your Used Computer to a Foster Youth Attending College
64. Assist Former Foster Youth with Resume/Portfolio for Job Applications
65. Purchase an Interview Outfit for a Former Foster Youth
66. Provide a Cell Phone for a Former Foster Youth
67. Organize a Holiday Break Housing Program for Former Foster Youth
68. Buy Textbooks for a Former Foster Youth Attending College
69. Provide Lodging to a Former Foster Youth During College Holiday Breaks
70. Buy Restaurant Gift Cards for Former Foster Youth
71. Offer Apprenticeship to Former Foster Youth
72. Assist Youth Leaving Foster Care with Securing Housing, Managing Their Budget
73. Donate Furniture to Former Foster Youth
74. Hire Foster Youth for Summer Jobs
75. Buy Bus/Public Transit Passes for Youth Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care
G. I want to assist Biological Families who just need a helping hand to keep their family stable, safe, and secure.
76. Mentor a Struggling Biological Parent
77. Offer to Provide Respite Care to a Biological Parent Who Has Reunified with their Children
78. Provide Holiday Meal to Recently Reunified Family
79. Assist Biological Parents with Attending Necessary Support Groups (AA, NA, etc.)
80. Engage Biological Parents in Community Events and Activities
81. Mentor a New Parent Who is At-risk (Teen Parent, Former Foster Youth, Person with Limited Support System)
82. Help a Struggling Biological Parent with Meals, Household Tasks, etc.
83. Reach Out and Provide Encouragement to a Biological Parent
84. Assist a Biological Parent with Job Seeking/Success Skills
85. Assist a Biological Parent with Transportation to Appointments, Work, etc.
H. My time and resources are limited right now but I have lots of space in my heart for kids in foster care.
86. Talk to Your Kids About Reaching Out to Children/Youth in Foster Care at School/Neighborhood
87. Watch Programs like Home for the Holiday with Your Family and Encourage Friends and Family to Join You
88. Gather Information and Educate Yourself, Family, Co-workers and Friends About the Needs of Kids in Foster Care
89. Read Books About Foster Care (Like “I Beat the Odds” by Michael Oher) to Become Better Informed
90. Support Programs and the Work of Persons That Highlight Successes or Advocate on Behalf of Children/Youth in Foster Care (for example, Jimmy Wayne and Wayne Dyer, and by Watching Movies/Television Programs About Children/Youth/Families and Their Achievements After Foster Care)
91. Boycott Movies and Television Programs That Provide Negative Stereotypes or Vilify Children/Youth in Foster Care (Unfortunately, there have been a few…)
92. Write to Movie/Television Producers Asking Them to Stop Harming Children/Youth in Care by Promoting Negative Stereotypes
93. Ask Your Employer to Support Foster Care Through Employee/Company Donations of Time and/or Money
94. Belong to a Civic Organization? Invite a Youth in Foster Care to Share Their Experiences
95. Talk With Your Children About Foster Care, Empathy, and Bullying (kids in foster care are often ostracized by both kids and parents)
96. Learn About Pending Legislation Affecting Children/Youth in Foster Care at the State and National Level
97. Call or Write Your Elected Representatives to Encourage Their Support of Child Welfare Legislation
98. Vote for Candidates Who Have Demonstrated Leadership in Improving the Foster Care System (such as Senator Landrieu, Congressman McDermott)
99. Write “Letters to the Editor” Advocating for Children/Youth in Foster Care
100. Use Social Media and Blog/Tweet/Post To Engage and Inform Others About Foster Care
101. Share Information About Programs Doing Great Work in Foster Care
If you’ve made it this far, you are clearly a candidate to get involved in foster care! I welcome additional suggestions.
I’m going to follow my own suggestion and take this opportunity to promote some causes that I feel are valuable and worthy of your support. Since you’ve been so dedicated and read through the whole list, I’ll keep this last part short. There are many more organizations and individuals doing great work in child welfare!
Communication Station: This is an incredible new technology that is ‘in development’. I believe this resource could change the landscape for youth in care. Fore more details, check out my previous blog post, Save A Childhood.
Meet Me Halfway: This is a project dedicated to advocating for youth aging out of care that was started by country music star, Jimmy Wayne.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): This national organization ensures children and youth have a voice in the foster care system by training and supporting volunteer advocates.