The following post is the conclusion of our three part series, where we will explore the relationship between foster care and the community.
When it comes to supporting causes,the general assumption surrounding lack of action is that people simply do not care. However, when it comes to rallying community support around the foster care system, finding people who care about the cause is not the challenge. Instead, the challenge is that people don’t know what they can do to help.
This was a key finding from our recent study (which you can read about more in our first and second blog posts below). Our research overwhelmingly shows that supporting foster caregivers and children is both a valuable and important cause with 98% of respondents agreeing that foster care is a valuable and needed service in their community and 9 in 10 agreeing that supporting children and caregivers is a cause that is important to them. However, community action does not align with respondent sentiments. Despite strong attitudes towards support and helping foster families in their community, 54% of respondents admitted to not helping because they are simply unsure of how to contribute.
As former foster parents, we remember desperately needing both physical and emotional support. Many people around us thought that because they weren’t able to foster children, they couldn’t help at all. Contrary to popular belief, becoming a foster parent is not the only way for individuals to support the foster care system. There are plenty of opportunities for people to help and build support for children and families within their communities. Caregivers need diapers, clothing, child care, support groups, and most importantly, an engaged community. That is why we started Foster Village. We knew there was a need for support, and there were people that cared and wanted to help, but simply did not know where to begin.
Foster Village creates opportunities to bridge the gap between the community and these families. Our resource centers are a great example of this. Many children in foster care come to us having lost everything due to abuse and/or neglect. We have multiple centers where caregivers can come and pick up anything they need: diapers, clothes, car seats, etc. The older children can go in and pick out whatever they want. For those looking to get involved, donating supplies or volunteering to help us run and maintain the dignifying experience at our centers, is a great place to start. Another great way is through offering childcare services. Caregivers, like all parents, get tired. But due to certain policies, they aren’t able to hire just anybody to babysit the children in their care. We offer quarterly Parent’s Night Out events and monthly Caregiver Gatherings so that parents can get a break and not have to worry about jumping through hoops for childcare.
These are just a few examples of ways to get involved. There are still plenty of other ways for individuals to contribute to their local foster care families to ensure these families feel valued and supported. Through continued outreach and education, we hope to continue building connections between the foster care system and local communities. Learn more about how to get involved.