There is one problem that has been talked about for quite some time now with such urgency, and yet some people still not perceive it as a real problem. You probably have heard about it on the news, or have read about it in newspapers and social media.
The headlines and phrases they use usually go like this: “There is a need for foster parents”; “The country is in a deep crisis”; “Children are brought far away from their home because there is a shortage of foster homes to take them,” and so on.
No matter how urgent and critical the situation seems when you hear something like this, you could not help but wonder: Where are all these kids? Why don’t you see them? You are not wrong for asking yourself these questions – they are valid and necessary.
And what’s interesting is that the answers to these questions are more simple and obvious than you think. All you need to do is take a look at the events happening near you or the news you read and watch on local media.
For instance, those arrests for domestic violence or drug dealing, the violent attacks and murders in families usually include children.
Those children are innocent – that’s why they are rarely mentioned on the news. But the sad reality is that children are victims caught in the middle of the incidents, and oftentimes they lose their parents and have no place to go.
The media only gives information about people directly involved in the events – they show the shooting, the attacks, the arrests…
However, they don’t show children who are left homeless, or without one or two parents.
They don’t show the children’s screaming as they are being involuntarily dragged out of their homes while social workers carry hastily their clothes in garbage bags.
They do not show on TV the loud screaming and crying of the children who are involuntarily taken from the only family they know and love.
You are not aware of it unless you become a foster parent. Only then you will start to realize how serious and common this problem actually is.
You will begin to feel really bad and feel sorry for these children who have nowhere else to go. So, you start asking yourself: Is there something you can do to help them?
If you are one of the kind-hearted people out there, and if you want to help, there are some things that you may be able to do that will be of huge help for these children:
1. Start by sharing this post so that you can raise awareness on this subject;
2. Find out if there is someone near you that is already fostering. Foster parents rarely mention this subject, so you will be surprised to discover that there are many of them, and some even in your neighborhood. Let them know that you will support them and help them with the next child that enters their home;
3. Bring them a meal and paper plates. Do not ask if they need this – they do. Be curious about what they usually eat and when and just bring the food 30 minutes before the meal. If you are not able to bring the food yourself, call a delivery restaurant, order the food, and arrange it to bring the food to the foster parents 30 minutes before their usual time of lunching or dining;
4. Help the foster parents with doing the laundry. Wash the laundry, dry it, and bring it back to them;
5. Do grocery shopping for them;
6. Offer to babysit the other children while the foster parents are taking the new kid to the hospital for all first week’s medical appointments;
7. Make a list of the things that the child needs and provide those things for them;
8. Attend a class at your local DCS to learn more about foster parenting;
9. Get a “respite” license – that is a license for you to be able to take care of a foster kid for a week or less;
10. Don’t forget to ASK! Always keep asking the foster parents what they need and what you can do to support them. Many times there are not many things you can do, but your interest and will to help are encouraging for them. Plus, the more you show interest they will begin to trust you more and will call you if a need arises.
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Photo by Frank McKenna