What would it look like if instead of spending your new year resolve on self-improvement, you made a commitment to dramatically improve the experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care?
We have 400,000+ reasons to make this issue your priority in the coming year, one for each child in foster care right now. The future for kids who get a “for now” foster family or “forever” family (if needed) is changed for the better, and often for generations.
Here are 23 ways you can make a life-changing impact for a child in foster care this year:
- Become a foster parent. It’s easier than you think and more important than you can imagine. Learn what it takes.
- Adopt a child from foster care. More than 100,000 kids in foster care are eligible for adoption and waiting for families. Dare to lean in and meet a few of them through our I Belong Project video gallery.
- Be Social. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, turn on post notifications and share kids’ stories as they happen. You just might inspire someone you know to foster or adopt.
- Become a Foster Friendly business. If you’re a business owner (or know someone who is) consider creating an offer for our Foster Friendly app to care for foster families.
- Encourage your faith community to become Foster Friendly. Faith communities that know and show up for their kinship, foster and adoptive families can be the difference-maker in making sure families feel seen, connected and cared for. We’ll help you get started here.
- If your business is food, offer to sponsor lunch for an I Belong Project shoot. We work hard to make our IBP shoot days special for kids and caseworkers alike. Serving a nutritious lunch is one of the ways we do that. Contact us about how you can sponsor lunch at a shoot this year.
- Be a Foster Friendly ambassador and invite local businesses to join our Foster Friendly app. If you live in one of our Foster Friendly states, connect with our local chapter and learn how to get started: California (LA County), Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee or Virginia).
- Become trauma aware. Kids who suffer trauma from the turbulence of entering the foster care system, or from any other hurt, often can appear to be mad when they’re really just sad. Understanding trauma and responding with patience and love mean a lot to foster families and kids you encounter in your community. Watch our one-hour trauma awareness video here.
- Offer to babysit for a foster family. See if your state requires extra training for babysitting and respite.
- Reach out to new foster and adoptive families in your local school/community. Lack of social support and the isolation that comes from caring for kids with trauma are top reasons foster parents quit, and half quit within their first year.
- Host a fundraising event to benefit kids in foster care. Whether you’re an artisan like Whitney Winkler (@whitneywinkler_art on Instagram) an entrepreneur like Salt by Sabrina or a small business like Source Four Design you business can show social responsibility by supporting kids in foster care.
- Invite a foster family on a play date.
- Become a corporate sponsor. Supporting foster care is a great way to demonstrate your business’ social responsibility and invest in the future of your community. Foster care is an upstream issue, which means that when kids age out without a family they’re at far greater risk for other costly social wounds including unemployment, justice involvement, homelessness, addiction and importantly, perpetuating a generational cycle of foster care . Email co-founder Brian Mavis to explore opportunities for your business.
- Donate to America’s Kids Belong. AKB is a lean, mission-driven organization. We connect more than half of the kids we serve with adoptive families. And we rely almost entirely on individual donations to fund our mission.
- Mow the lawn for a foster family.
- Learn what it takes to foster. If you feel called to foster, but not now, commit this year to learn what it takes, and maybe even to get certified. Check out our CEO’s own story about how his family stepped into fostering.
- Mentor a young adult who has aged out of foster care. Connect with your state’s child welfare department to learn about opportunities in your area.
- Ask your faith leader to teach on foster care this May (Foster Care Awareness Month). We have some helpful resources here.
- See if your employer offers a matching program for your gift. Many employers offering matching for your charitable donation, a simple way to multiply your impact for kids in foster care.
- If you have a small business make AKB your charity of choice.
- Donate items for kids’ and/or caseworkers’ care packages for IBP shoots. An important part of our I Belong Project days is to love on kids and caseworkers. We treat caseworkers with small gifts of appreciation like self-care products, hand-knit scarves and gloves, etc. And we work to offer kids practical care packages of clothing, school supplies, stuffed animals, baseball hats and more. Let us know what items you’re interested in donating.
- Add America’s Kids Belong to your Amazon smile account.
- Help others see the unseen kids in foster care. Share what you’re learning with others and encourage them to explore what they can do to improve experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care.