Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{31 Days} Ways to Support Foster Youth and Former Foster Youth

Become a Court-AppointedSpecial Advocate/CASA. CASA workers are volunteers that work with the court and the foster homes to see that the children are not lost in the system and that their needs and wants are heard.

Become a Mentor:  There are many ways in which you can become a mentor to a foster child or a former foster child that has just aged out of the system. You may find many local program opportunities for being a mentor to foster/at risk youth.  You can check you’re your local Social Services or church to start.  Many YMCA’s run a mentoring program of some sort, typically with a goal to specifically work with foster children or at-risk youth.  You can also check into Big Brothers Big Sisters of America whose mission is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”

Buy a necklace!  Net proceeds from the sale of the Tangled Heart Necklace supports the Tangled Hearts Scholarship for children form the foster care system. The fund is administered by Foster Care to Success.

Provide a job: If you are in a position where you can provide employment, consider offering a position to a foster youth.  Many foster youth struggle with the stigma associated with being in the system, others lack the self-esteem and skills to land that first position.  All they need is someone to give them a chance and help them with the self-confidence and ability to succeed.

Donate:  Donate clothes, furniture or household items to a former foster youth who has moved into their first place and is trying to make it on their own. Donate your time to help them move.

Open your home: Open your home during the Holidays to a former foster youth, so that they won't be alone.

Become a part of and contribute to the Camellia Network: 

Camellia Network harnesses the power of new technology to connect youth "aging out" of the foster care system with a community of resources, opportunities, encouragement and support. Youth have profiles on the site, giving them a place to express themselves, share their goals for the future and articulate what they need to be successful. Individuals and companies from across the country are able to collectively provide the support these young people lack by offering up doses of encouragement, career advice, professional connections, and financial support to help them navigate their way into adulthood. 

Some of these will be covered in "Ways to Support Foster Parents" and "Ways the Community can Support," but here is a quick list from some state agencies to show how you can help.

Not ready to become a foster parent?  
There are still ways you can help!
How about:

·       Sponsoring a child’s stay at summer camp?
·       Providing tutoring sessions?
·       Sponsoring a child’s uniform for a sports team or choral group?
·       Providing a gift certificate to a bookstore?
·       Donating tickets to a local event?
·       Purchasing a computer for a college bound teenager?
·       Hosting a barbeque for foster families?
·       Donating new toiletry items?  (soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, personal products, etc.)
·       Helping with prom or graduation expenses?
·       Sponsoring a child’s visit to a hair salon or barber shop?
·       Donating back packs stuffed with school supplies?

Tomorrow: Ways to Support Foster Families


  1. WOW, these are some AWESOME ideas, Tristen! How do we meet former foster children? I love this blog! You're doing a great job! =)

    1. Great question Sarah!

      You can meet former foster youth through the Camellia Network, which is developing into an amazing online community. This network is very young, and I believe its goal is to not only be an online social network, but to be a resource and a connecting point for the former foster youth and the adults that can support them in communities everywhere. Before that comes to fruition, our best hope is to establish a connection before they age out of the system when we are able to make connections through mentoring programs and/or social services.

      After their graduation, it would be ideal to naturally come across former foster youth at church or elsewhere within the community, of course this won't always be the case for these youth that are often isolated. Beyond this, many foster youth that have just aged out of the system participate in ILP's (Independent Living Programs), I imagine these programs and their policies vary by region but I would hope that if one were to contact them and be willing to be fingerprinted that they would allow you to assist with their needs and to be a positive influence in the lives of some of their youth.... ?? Do you have other thoughts as to how we can make connections with these youth in a legal, natural way?