Family is an important part of nearly everyone’s life. For most, your family members are the people that support you, provide safety, shelter, and food, and they are also the ones who make you feel loved. Now consider how significant a family is for a child from foster care who has most likely dealt with many changes in their life, including who is caring for them. In this article, we’ll focus on why families for children from foster care are so important and the different ways to support foster families.
Why Families Are So Important for Children from Foster Care
Families are especially important for children from foster care for many different reasons. Families also come in many different forms—such as birth families, foster families, and adoptive families. Foster families play one of the most essential roles in the lives of children from foster care, and here are some of the reasons why they are so important:
- Foster families provide a safe, stable place for children to live. Foster families care for a child from foster care during an uncertain time, when they aren’t being cared for by their birth families, but also haven’t been adopted. In this way, these families provide stability and a home for children when they need it most. This also gives the child a sense of belonging and makes them feel like they have someone supporting them.
- Foster parents also play an important role in the relationship between a child from foster care and their birth parents. This can sometimes be a difficult situation, but it is often beneficial for children from foster care to have contact with their birth families—especially since they might be reunited one day. Foster families help maintain this relationship and provide input for determining what is in the best interest of the child.
- Another reason foster families are so important to children from foster care is that they take on all of the responsibilities of raising the child—like cooking meals, helping with homework, buying clothes and toys, playing with them, disciplining them, addressing any behavioral issues, and teaching them the life skills they need.
Around 30% of all children from foster care remain with their foster families between 1-2 years, further demonstrating the importance of foster families and the care they provide. Foster families become the parents of a child from foster care during a difficult, in-between time and look after all of the child’s needs—physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why foster families are so important for children from foster care, let’s look at some of the ways that you can support these families that are doing this crucial work.
Ways to Support Foster Families
While foster families perform an essential role in the foster care system, they can’t always do it on their own. That’s why it’s paramount that they receive help from others, whether it’s from individuals, businesses, churches, or organizations. Here are some of the best ways to support foster families:
- Help With Yard Work and Things Around the House – One of the ways you can provide support for foster families is by helping out with yard work and other tasks around the house. As any type of parent knows, caring for a child can be a lot of work and your schedule often gets busy, leaving little time to complete jobs around the house. Offering to do something as simple as mowing the lawn, cleaning the windows, or vacuuming will be a tremendous help to the foster family.
- Offer Meals and Supplies – Another great option to help out a foster family is by offering to cook a meal for them or picking up supplies they need. Cooking can be a burden after a long day of work and caring for a child, so taking that off of a foster’s family plate will be greatly appreciated. You can also offer to get essential supplies for them—like groceries, toys, diapers, clothing, and anything else the foster family might need.
- Provide Respite Care – You can also provide respite care for a foster family and give them a break from caring for the child from foster care, but this option involves a little more work. Children from foster care must always be under the supervision of an adult who has been cleared by the state, and being cleared can be as easy as filling out a form and submitting a copy of your driver’s license or becoming licensed by the state. The requirements vary depending on the state you live in, but you can find more information here.
- Donate to Foster Organizations – One of the best—and simplest—ways to provide support for foster families is by donating to foster organizations, like the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP). You can make a monetary donation that will be used to support children from foster care and the foster families that care for them, or you can donate essential items—like the ones listed above—to help make sure foster families have everything they need.
At AZAFAP, our mission is to serve the foster, adoptive, and kinship families who care for Arizona’s most vulnerable children. Our active board members are all volunteers, and we are all foster and adoptive parents. We rely on the help of our supporters to provide support and resources; promote education; and empower foster, kinship, and adoptive families of all types.
If you or someone you know is a parent who has adopted from foster care, explore the resources we offer to help you on your journey! You can also help make a difference in the lives of these children and their families by becoming a volunteer, contacting us to learn more, or donating to our cause today!