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Everything You Need to Know About Foster Care 

Half a million children in the US alone are in foster care. Though the stats are disheartening, there is hope for these children. Here's what you can do to make a difference.
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Every day 1,200 kids enter foster care in America, with over 400,000 children in the system at any given time. Children enter foster care when their current home environment renders them too vulnerable, abused or neglected to continue living there.

Foster care can provide an opportunity to find the familial support these kids deserve in order to thrive. Here’s what you can do:

1. Volunteer, donate and raise awareness.

One incredible way to volunteer your time is to become a CASA Volunteer. CASA Volunteers help children navigate the confusing and overwhelming legal system, serving as a stable voice to represent the child’s needs to judges.

Foster children often lack adequate bags to pack their belongings when moving homes, therefore having to transfer items in trash bags. If you feel they deserve better than that, Together We Rise takes your $25 donation and provides a duffel bag for one of these kids.

Promoting awareness online is powerful as well. Whether you post during Foster Care Awareness Month in May, or take advantage of the virally powerful World Adoption Day smiley face on November 9th to tell your community about your passions for foster care, announcing your alliance with foster children will encourage your friends, who may be interested in the topic, to reach out to you to learn more.

2. Become a foster parent.

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Photo by Dado Photos/Shutterstock.com

Opening up your home for fostering is certainly a big decision, one that should be made with wisdom and care. However, offering a loving home to kids needing stability is a deeply rewarding process.

There are different ways to open your home to foster children: temporary respite care (weekends), short-term shelter care (up to 30 days), foster care (with the goal for the child to return to their biological family) and foster-adoption.

Opening up your home for fostering is certainly a big decision, one that should be made with wisdom and care. However, offering a loving home to kids needing stability is a deeply rewarding process.

You must be certified to foster and requirements vary by state, but you may be surprised to discover how welcoming the community is. You may worry that you’re automatically disqualified because you’re single, you don’t own a home, you are “too young” or “too old” or you aren’t yet a US Citizen. However, if you can demonstrate stability, love and responsibility, you’re likely eligible to foster children! While you do need to demonstrate that you’re financially prepared to care for the children’s needs, you’ll also be eligible for a subsidy to help cover foster expenses.

3. Foster-adoption.

Foster-adoption is a particularly beautiful way to build your lifelong family. People looking to adopt often focus only on infants, causing older children to have a harder time finding families. When you think about adoption, private adoption, which focuses on infants, likely comes to mind; this route can be very competitive and costly. However, foster-adoption is a state-run program with far lower costs that tends to focus on older children. In 2012, 57% percent of all adopted foster children were 3-10 years old and only 2% were under 1-year-old. Sibling-sets of children thrive when they’re able to stay with their brothers or sisters, so often times, the foster-adoption path means opening up your family to several children at once.

There are so many children who need the stability and care that the foster care system can offer, but there’s also so many beautiful ways to help. Check out the innovative and inspiring foster organizations in your local community and begin making a difference today!