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You Can Help a Child in Foster Care

ParentMap and Carter Subaru have partnered with Treehouse to bring readers information about and perspectives of those impacted by foster care. This month: How to Help a Child in Foster Care.

Help a foster childWondering what you can do to make a difference in the life of a child in foster care?

Twenty-eight thousand youth age out of the foster care system every year, many without family or friends to guide them. Currently, there are 1,300–1,500 youth in foster care in King County alone. You can connect with these youth before they leave the system and help give them a head start on a secure and successful life. Here’s how to get involved whether you have a minute, a few hours or a lifetime.

If you have a few minutes:

Spread the word to support foster youth. Get connected with Treehouse and other local nonprofit organizations supporting foster youth.  Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, sign up for their newsletters and share their success stories with friends and family.  Every post or story you share helps spread awareness of our community’s foster youth.

Go shopping for the cause: Buy basic-needs donations for foster kids. While you are out at the mall shopping for your family, pick up an extra outfit for a foster youth and donate it to the Treehouse Wearhouse.  The Wearhouse is a free store located in south Seattle that provides youth in foster care with essentials like clothing, school supplies and toys. With these basic needs met,  foster children gain confidence, improve academic performance and just feel like a normal kid. The Treehouse Wearhouse south Seattle location is open to accept donations Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

If you have a few hours:

Host an event to help foster children. Foster kids need your imagination, inspiration and dedication! From birthday parties to workplace soirees to bake sales, you can positively impact the lives of foster youth in your own unique way. 

Looking to instill your philanthropic spirit in your own children? Planning an event as a family is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids that giving back not only feels good but it is also a lot of fun. 

Raise money for foster children by collecting favorite recipes from family and friends and sell recipe books. Spark your little one’s entrepreneurial spirit with a good old-fashioned lemonade stand for a cause. For those who aren’t comfortable asking for monetary donations, throw a theme party to collect items that kids need most, like denim for a “Jeans for Teens” party. 

Contact your legislators and stay informed of issues affecting foster kids in Washington state. Support landmark legislation to improve the education and well-being of foster youth in our state. With less than half of students in foster care graduating high school, there is still work to do.

Not sure who to contact or what to say? Wondering how one person can really make a difference? Contacting your legislators is a surprisingly quick and straightforward process — and it matters! It doesn’t take a thousand calls and emails to catch their attention. Many times, as few as ten responses are sufficient to place the issue on the radar. 

To get started, learn the names of your state senator and state representatives.

Next, learn more about the legislative priorities affecting foster youth this year. For 2013 the following bills are currently under review:

Finally, contact your senator and state representatives and tell them why you support youth in foster care. You can help level the playing field for youth in foster care, and ensure they have access to the opportunities and resources they equally deserve to reach their full potential in life.

Educate yourself on foster youth issues: Attend an event. Learn more about the challenges foster youth face and the local organizations that are trying to ensure safety, stability and a future for them by attending local lectures and events.

If you have more time:

Volunteer to serve foster youth in Washington State. It feels great to know that you’ve made a difference in the life of a child. Volunteers do just that by working as coaches, tutors, event staff, office assistants and much more. Whether you have a lot of time to volunteer or a little, contact Treehouse or another nonprofit organization serving foster youth and get involved in the community today! 

Volunteer as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and work with the court and foster families to see that foster youth are not lost in the system and that their needs and wants are heard.  You don’t have to be a lawyer to get involved in the legal process that dictates where children go. The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) is a nationwide organization of programs that train community volunteers to speak for abused and neglected children in court. 

Provide a job for a foster kid. Give a foster child a chance to learn and grow. Many youth in the foster care system have a difficult time finding work due to the stigma of being a “foster kid.” You could help by reaching out to these young people and providing them with their first work experience.

Collect clothing and toys for the foster community. You can make sure that no foster child in the community goes without the essentials. Collect clothing to give them confidence at school, toys to bring them comfort, or funds to provide them with the enrichment opportunities that they need.  Rally your family, friends, and coworkers to join you in your efforts.  Learn more tips on how you can set up a successful drive as well as other helpful tools.

Become a foster parent. Thousands of Washington kids rely on compassionate, committed and loving foster parents to provide the safe, nurturing homes they deserve and so desperately need. If you’re ready to open your heart and home to a child caught between a painful past and an uncertain future, this may be the journey for you. Foster parents change lives one child at a time. Hear from local foster parents on how this journey has impacted them and their families.

Additional resources and information on foster parenting:

Washington State Department of Health and Social Services Children’s Administration offers information on licensing, financial assistance and a foster parent’s rights and responsibilities. 

The YMCA of Greater Seattle offers a foster care program, including free foster parent trainings and support meetings, as well as a child and family support specialist for each child. 

Casey Family Programs, a leading foster care foundation, offers a wide selection of foster parent resources and general information on children in foster care.

Are you interested in adopting a child from Washington State foster care?  Learn about the Foster-to-Adopt program at Amara.   

Connect with foster parents in our community and learn about the support groups and trainings available for foster parents.

Treehouse logo  

About Treehouse
Treehouse makes a difference in the lives of thousands of Washington foster kids by helping with school, fulfilling key material needs. Learn more about Treehouse and the essential services and programs the organization provides for kids in foster care and how you can help give foster kids a childhood and a future.

Treehouse and other local nonprofit organizations supporting youth in foster care rely on the generous contributions of the community to make their programs possible.  Treehouse is 90% privately funded and relies on the support of more than 7,000 donors every year.

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