- Multiple sizes and numbers of carseats, boosters, infant carriers, etc. that need to be replaced often due to extreme wear and tear and age. Did you know that carseats "expire" 6 years after the manufacture date and should be replaced? When you have a constant stream of children of every age, the cost of replacing all of their transportation safety equipment can be daunting in itself.
- Constant replacement of everyday infant/toddler supplies, clothing, and toys that get misplaced during visits, worn out from overuse, or sent home in bulk when our kiddos return home. I know when my kids return home, I send them with all of their favorite toys, learning toys, books, the bottles/sippy cups that they are used to, their favorite blanket and stuffed animals, all of their OTC medications and personal hygiene supplies, diapers, wipes, formula and/or a few groceries or foods that they are used to eating, and their complete wardrobes.
- Last minute scrambling to purchase twin beds or cribs when we receive a placement call for a child not in our planned age range (because goodness knows, it happens all the time)
- Loss of income for working parents who need to take unpaid time off of work for foster care-related home visits, court hearings, required appointments, etc.
When I first started fostering, I had no idea that there was any kind of assistance out there for families like mine. As Christmas neared the year that Booger Bear and Angel were with me, I began to learn from various sources about different not-for-profits and local groups whose mission is to provide foster children with gifts, warm coats, shoes, food, etc. That year, my kids were blessed beyond measure with gifts from their CASAs, donors from my agency, CPS, Angel's young mother's group, and a local not-for-profit. Over time, I have learned of even more organizations and groups who offer assistance to foster families throughout the year as well as during the holiday season specifically.
"So how do you find them?!?" you might ask. Ask your children's CASA, caseworker, agency, or your church. Scour the internet and search specifically for "organizations supporting foster children in *** County/State." You might be surprised what all you can find!
Just a few random ones that I may or may not be personally familiar with (because I don't want to be too specific on my location) are:
Friends of Wednesday's Child offers a wide variety of programs and assistance for foster children and teens aging out of care in North Texas.
Ambassadors for Children in Greene County, Missouri also offers several forms of assistance and support to abused and neglected children and foster families in Greene County.
The Foster Care Support Foundation partners with the state of Georgia to help meet the needs of Georgia's foster children. This particular organization has a huge variety of programs including assistance in meeting physical needs, training, scholarships, and foster parent support.
iFoster.org - iFoster.org is a National organization that provide resources for at-risk children and youth by partnering with major retailers, restaurants, services providers, etc. to offer discounts for families in need. They offer discounted rates on computers and cell phone plans, coupons for groceries, tips on improving computer skills, and question and answer forums.
These are just a teeny tiny sampling of the organizations that are out there to assist our families and our kids. I am in the process of compiling a listing by state as well as a list of National organizations. My hope is to be able to put these together as a stand-alone page on the blog for easy referencing.
This is where you come in!
My HUGE request is for help FROM ALL OF YOU in providing links to organizations that you use in your area (or just help with the research if you have time to spare over the coming weeks).
Please post your choices here or email me directly at I_MustBeTrippin@hotmail.com with links to your favorite organizations or if you can offer any other kind of assistance. I would love for this list to provide a great variety of options for foster families everywhere, and I know this is a huge task that I can't do alone! Very thankful for my awesome readers who have already contacted me!!! You ladies are wonderful! :-)
Keep an eye out for a "Foster Care Resources" link over the coming weeks and check back frequently as I will continue to update as I find new organizations. Looking forward to this project and to being able to provide a great resource to foster families! In the meantime, be sure to ask your children's CASAs, caseworkers, etc. about local organizations for help for the holidays. The help is out there! You just have to find it.