But Wait! There’s More

Well, this might be the latest I’ve ever posted to my blog. I’m going to count that as a win because I’ve been at this internship for 8-ish weeks and next week is the last. I thought this might happen a lot more often.

I’m sure you’re wondering what I have in store for this next to last post. Spoilers but next week is going to be a reflection of my time at DSS so this week is my last information based post. My makeshift nest is in Foster Care still and let me tell you, I could have written for the full nine weeks about foster care and still not been able to cover everything. Foster Care has a lot going on and my FC supervisor made a comment some time ago that there’s always something someone can do to help out and that’s the inspiration for this blog post.

Maybe you read “Who Wants to Be a Foster Parent” and thought it was a worthy cause but foster parenting didn’t play to your strengths or any other reason (your reasons are your own and are valid) but you still would really like to help these kids out. Great! There are ways you can do that.

Do you like planning parties/are you good at planning parties/do you have space for some fun event like a party?

If you answered yes, then you can help out foster kids. I know that in Orange (and I’m sure in most counties) the foster care workers like to have parties or fun events for the kids to participate in every few months. In fact, just yesterday we took foster kids and their families to the Orange County Fair but we couldn’t have done it without a group generously donating tickets (shout out to Crazy Pets Club). It’s really hard to find time to plan a party and contact families and find a space for it AND provide food AND get everybody there. Or if it’s not a party, it’s hard to find an activity that is affordable and a large amount of the foster kids can go to. If you would like to do something nice for foster kids and help out a foster care worker, plan a party or donate a space or donate some food for an event or donate some tickets to an event you’re already having. This may seem like a strange way to help, but events like these show that it’s not just the department that cares about these kids but also their communities.

Are you a part of a large organization like a club or a church/are you good at things like clothing and food drives/are you super organized?

This is another great way to help out. Donations from large groups of any variety are a blessing for foster care workers. Yes, certain amounts of money are set away to provide kids with clothes and toiletries but having the right things on hand at the right time can be a challenge. If you want to set up a clothing and toiletries drive with a group you are a part of in order to make the transition for kids a little easier, I highly recommend looking into it. They need basics like shirts, pants, socks, and underwear but sometimes people don’t think about winter clothes until it’s already cold. Stock up on coats, gloves, hats, and scarves. Donate shoes! Find clothes in all sizes (most kids in foster care are over the age of 8 so keep that in mind). If you’re looking at toiletries diapers are always appreciated as are soaps, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. And in an effort to make a FC worker’s life a little easier if you could have things organized by what they are that would be amazing. The last thing I have to write in this section is the biggest so I want people to pay attention: DONATE CLOTH TOTE BAGS. I hear you asking why. Well, these bags are often a new start for these kids. They’ve just been moved out of their homes with their biological parents and a lot of the time, if they have anything, their stuff comes in trash bags. There is nothing more upsetting or demoralizing than leaving your home and having your things treated like trash so we do everything we can to make sure they have a real bag to put their clothes and toys in and the more bags we have, the better.

Do you want to donate your time or space but you aren’t really a party person?

Here’s what you can do: babysitting and support groups. Kids in foster care are only allowed to be looked after by people that have been approved by DSS so sometimes it’s really hard to find someone to babysit if you’re a foster parent. Additionally, sometimes as a foster parent you need to get advice from other foster parents and take some time to decompress. Support groups are great for foster parents and many areas like Orange would like to implement them but they need space and babysitters for foster kids. If you want to help out these foster parents for a few hours a month by getting background checked out to babysit or by donating some space, then that’s a very simple way you can have a huge impact.

Do you have desktop publishing skills/would you want to write up a newsletter?

If you said yes, then you might be volunteering to do most of the battle of a foster care worker (as my supervisor says). Most of the issue with getting a community involved with the foster care system is being able to advertise well. The first thing my FC supervisor had me do when I came in was make some fliers for a training and come up with a brochure to give out at the front desk and around town. It was something simple for me to do that didn’t take more than 10 or so minutes of my time and now there’s a vehicle for people in town to have information about what’s going on at the foster care branch of DSS. A great way to get involved with foster care and then get the people in your community involved is to call your local DSS and say “Hey, do you have someone making your fliers? Could I take some of that off your hands?” or “I own a printing and copying business. I’m passionate about helping foster children, so I’d like to donate 100 free copies of your next brochure.” Anything along those lines just helps spread the word even farther and allows more people to help out.

 

Those were all of the major ways my FC supervisor told me people could help out without being foster parents. I’m sure there are plenty of other location specific ways you can help your town’s foster care workers. Simply making a phone call and sticking to a commitment can make a world of difference.

More next week!

Sadie

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Suzanne Raitt on 08.18.16 at 9:35 am

Sadie, I missed these last two posts because I was on vacation but this one is just full of such great, concrete ideas. In fact, we’re looking for a service project for my Girl Scout troop (ahem) and this was really inspiring.

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