Foster families need our support and encouragement - especially during this pandemic. While some of our traditional methods of support may have to change for the time being, there are still many ways that the community can come alongside those who have said yes to children in foster care. Here are some ideas for ways you can help:
1. Feed a Foster Family
Foster families often have MANY mouths to feed - and the current restrictions on how many grocery items can be purchased has put some of those large families in a tough spot. Some families have experienced loss of income, the stress of virtual schooling, and many have welcomed new children into their homes during this time. There are many ways you can help feed a foster family. Drop off extra groceries when you go to the store. Order a pizza to be delivered to their doorstep. Connect with Bridge a Life to prepare a home cooked meal. Mail a Publix or Walmart giftcard to help cover expenses. Not only will you help fill their bellies, you'll bring a lot of smiles to their faces! If you are not already connected with any foster families, email CallieC@TheTwigCares.com to get connected!
2. Sew Masks for Caseworkers
Caseworkers are still making home visits, ensuring that children are safe. They are entering homes on a daily basis and many do not have protective gear for those visits. If you have the ability to sew masks, consider donating them to Safe Children Coalition or your local foster care agency for their caseworkers. They will be greatly appreciated by the foster care community!
3. Sponsor a TwigBox
Children who age out of foster care have always been a vulnerable and at risk population - and this current situation is no exception. You can sponsor a TwigBox that will be mailed directly to a young adult who has aged out of foster care in the past five years. Each box is filled with hygiene products and personal care items, as well as some fun surprises. You can help provide for the practical needs of a former foster youth through your sponsorship of a box.
4. Send a Note of Encouragement
Being a foster parent is often a very lonely calling, and that loneliness has only been exacerbated by the current situation. Take a moment to write a note of thanks and encouragement to a foster family. Your words will help them feel seen, appreciated, and encouraged to continue doing such important work!
5. Become a Foster Parent
Have you ever found yourself saying, "I've always thought about becoming a foster parent..."? Now is a great time to start the process. Many foster care licensing agencies are offering their required training online making it easy to get your hours completed. There is a current shortage of foster care families and the need for foster homes is expected to increase in the upcoming months. Reach out to One More Child, Safe Children Coalition, or your local foster care agency to find out more about the process of becoming a foster parent.
6. Support Organizations that Help Children in Foster Care
The pandemic is affecting all areas of our lives, and the economic situation has the potential to severely impact nonprofit organizations that serve children in foster care. Consider making an unrestricted donation to an organization that is dedicated to helping the foster care community. From noon to noon on April 28 and 29, donations of $25-$100 given through The Giving Challenge will be matched to maximize your gift. Consider giving to one (or more!) of these local organizations that serve the foster care community:
Bridge A Life
One More Child
Safe Children Coalition
All Star Children's Foundation
Guardian Angels of SW Florida
Children's Guardian Fund
Thank you for caring about children in foster care. While there are many needs during this pandemic, we hope you will consider investing in the lives of children in foster care. Not everyone can foster, but everyone can do something to help!
Last month, The Twig had the opportunity to partner with Safe Children Coalition to surprise one of their amazing foster parents with a "Foster Parent Ambush"! We showed up at Sarasota High School where she teaches and surprised her in her classroom with cheers, balloons, and a gift basket. Her students were able to hear about the wonderful work she does outside the classroom, and how she is making a difference in the lives of children in foster care.
Each month, SCC will be identifying an outstanding foster family to honor in this way. They will be coordinating with the family's place of work or worship to make the suprise happen. When they came to us and asked if The Twig would like to be part of the ambush by providing a gift basket for the family, we enthusiastically said "YES!" We look forward to encouraging our local foster families in this way each month.
Our area has a foster care capacity crisis which means that there are not enough homes to house all of the children who are going into care. Foster parenting can be a difficult calling and we want to do everything we can to help foster families keep saying "yes!" to children who need a home. Little surprises like this can help give encouragement, reminding them that what they do is important and that their work matters to all of us.
If you would like to sponsor a gift basket for a future Foster Parent Ambush, please email CallieC@TheTwigCares.com. Together we can encourage and inspire the foster care community!
Every month, almost 2000 teenagers will "age out" of the foster care system in the United States. The outcomes for this particular population are dismal at best. Far too often, these young adults will end up in prison, homeless, trafficked, or dead within a few years.
After reaching the age of 18, 20% of children who were in foster care will be instantly homeless. Only 50% of former foster youth will be gainfully employed by the age of 24. Less than 3% of young adults who age out of foster care will earn a college degree and 25% won't finish high school or earn their GED. As many as 7 out of 10 young women who have aged out will be pregnant before the age of 21 and approximately half of the young adults who have aged out of foster care will develop a substance dependence.
We believe that these are our kids and that we must do something to help encourage and inspire them to rise above their circumstances by offering practical help and support.
Our TwigBox program is designed to do just that. Former foster youth are able to request a free monthly care package through our website. They simply fill out the form once a month with their current address and specific needs. Our team packs a box of hygiene products and personal care items specifically for that individual and includes some special treats, a gift card, and a personal note. That box is then shipped directly to the former foster youth completely free of charge.
Know a former foster youth who would benefit from receiving a TwigBox? Encourage them to register online at www.thetwigcares.com/twigbox. Want to support the TwigBox program and help us meet the growing demand for these boxes? Give online at www.thetwigcares.com and annotate your gift toward TwigBox.