Ask the Expert

How You Can Help Children In Foster Care

By Jan 6, 2012January 28th, 201531 Comments

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We’re bringing you a special and very important message today – about how you can make a New Year’s resolution to help a child in need. Penny from Foster To Forever is here to share how you can help children in foster care – without being a foster parent yourself.

A handgun was placed in front of her. Was it loaded? Did it matter? Micki* was only 11 years old and knew nothing about firing one. “Go ahead. The world would be a better place without you in it.” – the words spoken by her mother.

Micki and her little brother came to our home late one night with a trashbag of belongings. They lived in our home for one week as arrangements were being made for them to go live with their dad out-of-state.

We are foster parents.

Foster Care

Wait! Before you say, “Oh, that’s great for you, but I could never do foster care!” Let me reply with “you don’t have to.”

Foster children come into care through no fault of their own. You can help one of the 450,000 children in foster care without actually adopting or becoming a foster parent. Here’s how:

Offer Your Photography Skills

So many of you are talented photographers. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Agencies use photolistings of foster children needing a home to display to potential families. Sadly, many times, unflattering “deer-in-the-headlights” snapshots are the only photos ever taken of the child. Sometimes, a photo that captures the mesmerizing eyes of a child showing their personality is what can tug on a potential parent’s heart. Are you a photographer? Would you be willing to create beautiful portraits of foster children to display to potential families?

If you would be willing to donate your artistic skill, go to the Heart Gallery of America, to find a Heart Gallery in your area, or to begin one.

Become a Foster Child’s Advocate

Sometimes a foster child may move from home to home, and desperately need a consistent adult presence in their life to ensure that they don’t get “lost in the system.” Judges appoint Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers to watch over a foster child’s case and advocate for them in court.

CASA volunteers do not have to be attorneys or social workers, just everyday people that want to make a difference in an abused or neglected child’s life. For more information, contact casaforchildren.org

Donate to an Organization that Assists Foster Children

Of course, sometimes, money can help those in need. There are many, many organizations designed to help abused and neglected children.

My favorite charities are those that assist the 30,000 foster children that, by turning 18, are “aging out” of the foster care system each year. These children become adults with no place to call home. No parents to call for guidance or assistance in getting started on their own. Country singer Jimmy Wayne (@jimmywayne) was a foster kid that found himself homeless and hungry, like 50% of former foster children do.


He created Project Meet Me Halfway to help other former foster children. In Miami, Casa Valentina provides a supportive home environment for adult foster girls that have aged out to assist them in becoming healthy, productive adults.

Provide Short-Term Respite Care for a Foster Parent

As you may know, caring for your children is a challenging endeavor. As parents, you must make alone time with your spouse to keep your family strong. However, my husband and I didn’t leave our home alone overnight for nearly 2 years. We desperately needed some “alone time”, otherwise known as short-term respite care.

As foster parents, we couldn’t leave our foster children with just anybody – anybody that cares for our foster children has to pass our State’s background check for foster care. And foster parents – shoot, any parents – can reach burn out easily if they don’t occasionally have some type of respite or “getaway”.

Would you be willing to help out a foster family by providing respite care?

Provide a Home for Child that Doesn’t Have One

I know I said “you don’t have to {do foster care}”; however, would you be willing to just to find out the facts? With the beginning of the New Year, agencies are now holding informational meetings. Classes for potential foster parents begin soon, i.e. this month!

Here’s a special challenge for your New Year’s resolutions! Simply attend an informational meeting to learn more about foster care in your area.

Who knows? Maybe 2012 will be a life-changing year! For you and a neglected child.

About the Author

Foster 2 ForeverPenelope is a foster mom that beat infertility by adopting two gorgeous baby boys from foster care. She shares the rollercoaster adventure of foster care, adoption and parenting once-neglected children at Foster2Forever.com. Her upcoming ebook  chronicles their unbelievable true story of their most recent quasi-international adoption through foster care. You can find Penelope on Twitter (@Foster2Forever) and on Facebook.

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About Alina Thomas

Alina is a Northern Virginia wedding photographer based out of Leesburg, VA. She has a passion for arts and design, and strives to express it through her work. She is creative at heart and loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge in photography with other Virginia wedding photographers on her blog each week. Alina loves being a new mom to her first-born and spending time with her husband who helps her run her businesses. Please feel free to follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.


  • lisa says:

    That is great. we are long term,respite,short term and emergency carers, plus have two bio’s. hardest thing for us is the lack of financial support we get for our children, most turn up with abs nothing and it was really getting hard to afford to buy clothing for everyone. our friends and work mates now save their childrens clothing for us and we also share what we dont need with other carers. every little thing you do for a carer makes a difference, especially when they have half a dozen kids most of the time. photos is a great one, cant remember the last time we could afford proper photos.

  • Stacy Molter says:

    Thank you for sharing how so many can reach out and help!

  • Survey on after effects of Foster care says:

    We are a research group at California State University, Chico. We are conducting a 10-minute survey on the effects of foster care on intimate relationships in adulthood. Data collected will be used by CSU, Chico Sociology students as a part as their undergraduate degree. You must be 18 years of age or older to participate. All information collected will be completely anonymous. We greatly appreciate your participation in this research. Please click the following link to proceed through the survey.

    Thank you!


  • Jay says:

    What a wonderful post as a mother of 8 (3 Foster) and respite parent for many more it is great to see so many responses, let me just say thank you from the carers.
    If anyone wishes to sponsor any events for Darwin Australia please let us know I would be happy to put you in touch with Foster Care NT.

  • Angelle says:

    Amazing article! very good thought and very educational. I learn a lot. Someday, I’ll be a parent and I have some idea on how to handle this kind of situation. Thank you for sharing you for sharing your ideas and knowledge about this kind of reality situation. I hope to pass by again in your site!

  • Imafoster says:

    Great post. Another great way to help foster kids and families in need is http://www.onesimplewish.org. Great program that makes it simple to help in a big way..

  • Kisha says:

    Thank you, I’ve been wondering what ways I could help!

  • The Heart Gallery is a brilliant idea. I’m off to locate one. What a great post!

  • Marie Cole says:

    Thank you for shedding some light on Foster Care, I really didn’t know anything about it. 🙂

  • Liz says:

    I just heard a story on the radio about the Saints football player who went through many horrible years until he was adopted at 12…. Inspiring and heartbreaking. Thanks for this great post!

  • Chicka says:

    This just warmed up my Sunday. Thanks for the share and story.

  • Stefanie says:

    Wonderful post! Definitely given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

  • Donna Conley says:

    This is a great post. Several years ago I was a Guardian Ad Litem (CASA in some areas). It was VERY rewarding work. Sometimes you are the only constant adult in a child’s life that helps to keep them from being lost in the system. Unfortunately due to moving and a work schedules, I have not been able to work with CASA.

  • Maggie S. says:

    Fabulous post. We have provided emergency respite care, regular foster care and been staffed for several placements that fell through. Agency adoption has been the only way we’ve been able to grow our family. We know several parents who met their sons or daughters through foster care. It was the best method for them, where agency or private adoption wasn’t.

  • LuAnn says:

    Great article! I worked with foster kids for years, mostly the ones moving into the community for the first time to live independently. They were so much fun to work with and also needed a lot of support and TLC. That transition is very difficult for most young people – being out there alone is terrifying. I still hear from many of them who are now parents and living successfully as adults – they make me very proud!

  • I appreciate your spin on this post. Some people are not able to foster but want to do something to make a difference. I’m going to seriously consider some of the options presented here. Very well done post!

  • Lorraine Robinson says:

    this article truly blessed me today…it showed me ways to help short of fostering myself. Thank you.

  • Great one! I’m a foster to adopt mom and quite often hear how “oh i couldn’t do that”…it actually makes my blood boil! Sure maybe you can’t foster but that doesn’t mean you should do NOTHING! Everyone can do something…even if it seems little to you, it can be HUGE!

  • This is SO awesome! I have a friend that adopted a sibling set of 8 children not too long ago and I have always been moved by the love that people have in their hearts to do this. I am currently stationed in Canada so I went to work to see if they have this foundation up here and a need for pictures. Turns out they just MIGHT! This is their website http://www.pincgiving.com/campaign/heart_gallery_of_ottawa and the contact phone number for more information for donating your time is 1-888-542-3678 Thank you so much for making this a feature!! =) I love chance to serve!

  • I hope to one day be able to foster a child…

  • Jennifer says:

    My cousin works in the child division for the Department of Human Services in Texas. Her office is always asking for donations of various items, like gently used books. She said they can not take used clothing, but there are other items. Also once a year she participates in a fundraiser that auctions off cakes to raise money for a local group that provides services to foster children. All I had to do was back a cake, which is pretty simple. I would suggest calling your local office to see if there are ways you can help in your area that may not be listed here.

  • I love the idea of taking pictures. So simple but so helpful! Adoption out of the foster care system in our 5 year plan. Our 1200 sq foot home is already maxed out with 4 kids so we need a bigger house first. Until then we support adoption by donating to Bethany Christian Services and encouraging adoptive parents we know.

  • Tugboat says:

    great post! I just emailed my husband to possibly get started in helping out with this!

  • Thank you for such a great post! I plan to become an advocate for foster children when my kids get a little bit older. Adoption is an issue so close to our hearts…. three of my six were adopted internationally. And while I really want to do more for kids who are living without families, I know I need to dedicate myself first to raising the ones in my home first. So for me, I look at the CASA role as something I can do in the future, once my kids are grown.

  • Lindsay says:

    I never thought about something as simple as photographing the children to be helpful. What a great idea.

  • This is a great post. So educational on how to help. And for those who do take in the children, you are such a blessing.

  • Allison says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    We fought the urge to adopt through foster care for months. Then we went to an informational meeting and were hooked. We adopted our son through foster care (we fostered him 21 months before we finalized his adoption). We are currently awaiting and praying for another placement. And I am hoping to sign up to be a CASA worker soon (with 2 preschoolers, time is tight, but I hope to sign up next month).

    Foster care is so near and dear to our family. Without this necessary evil, our son probably would not be alive and certainly would not be thriving.

    Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing so many way to reach out and help!

  • What a fabulous post! I have always wanted to do foster care but my husband doesn’t (yet) agree. I am thrilled to know that there are some other ways to help; thank you!