I don’t have many passions in life. But one that is for sure is foster care. I feel the need to share my experiences with others in hopes to either spark an interest OR to relieve some of the negative connotations foster care has. I completely understand if you are unable to foster a child BUT there are many ways you can help a child in foster care.
Here are 4 simple ways that you can serve a child in need and possibly save a life.
1. Foster a child.
There are three different ways/routes you can be a foster parent.
Foster to adopt-
In other words you will be the person they call if a child is ready to be adopted. Some times these children can be a bit older like 6 months and up but in my case I received 2 infants from the hospital and was able to adopt both. The state will cover most (if not all) costs associated with the legal adoption.
In this route you are only a foster parent. You may not be looking to adopt. One may want to just help and love a child until they are reunified with their parents or will be transferred to a foster-to-adopt home. This does not mean that when the child that is in your home comes up for adoption that you can not change your mind and decide to adopt. You are definitely allowed to.
Respite Foster Care-
As a respite care license holder you are able to “babysit” per say the children who are already in foster homes. For instance, when a foster parent is going out of town or needs a break for some reason, then you can take over for a few hours or days. This is an excellent option if you want to get a “feel” for the foster care world.
2. Volunteer at Child Haven
I was just telling some friends about Child Haven a week or so ago and they had no clue about it. So I figure most people may not either. Child Haven is the “in-between” or in other words our modern day orphanage. This is where the children first go when a child is removed from their parents until a relative or foster family can take them ‘home’. Many times there are approximately 50-75 kids living in Child Haven in our Las Vegas location at a time. They are in dire need of volunteers.
As soon as I started fostering, I asked my mom if she would take time out of her week to volunteer down at Child Haven. She has now been doing this for 2 years and here was her experience:
‘When my daughter suggested a year and a half ago that I be a volunteer at our local Las Vegas Child Haven, I was both startled and thrilled. What do I have to offer to these children? I love children, I have 4 of my own, and closing in on number 15 grandchild. But what would I offer to these children? The answer? Just myself.
There are no words to describe the automatic love I feel for these children. I cuddle and rock babies, I feed toddlers, I sing songs with older children. Last time I was there an 8 year old girl and I played a game of UNO.
These children NEED volunteers like YOU and I. Sometimes the workers get tired and a little grumpy. It is easily understood, children are simply children. They get into trouble, they tease each other, they don’t want to eat or take their nap. Just as we get grumpy with our own children the workers do too. What a relief it is to have a FRESH face and willing hands to take over for a few minutes.
You don’t have to stay for a whole day, however if you want to that would be greatly appreciated. I stay for two hours a week, however another volunteer that I know stays for an entire day each week.
Most of these children have been greatly neglected. Occasionally I have held a baby that has been abused. These children need to find HOPE in a very dark world. YOU can be THEIR LIGHT. God could not be everywhere and so HE made WOMEN.
This happened to me while working one day. Each time I go I try to smile and make eye contact with every child, but I try to find one child that day that I can embrace and love.
A little blonde headed little boy was admitted to Child Haven just on the day I arrived to volunteer. He was about 2 ½ and there was so much sadness in his eyes. He was confused and bewildered. I know he was wondering where he was and why he was taken from his family. Children forgive easily and still long for their parents (even if they have abused them). I put him into his high chair and brought his food over to him. He didn’t eat, he didn’t even respond. He just sat there.
I started to talk to him and as I talked to him I began spoon feeding him. One of the workers sharply said “you probably shouldn’t do that as he will expect someone to feed him.” I try to never be disobedient but this child needed love and assistance. I continued to feed him and took him down for his nap. As I laid him into his small little toddler bed, his beautiful blue eyes looked up at me with that longing look of “take me home”. At first I thought my heart would break, however I turned him over on his tummy and rubbed his back until he fell fast asleep.
Perhaps I didn’t do anything for that child, and I know he will never remember me. But that day my heart was changed. I knew that EVERY child is a child of God and a gift from heaven, and they ALL deserve to be treated that way.
May God nudge us to do good works in rescuing his children, AND may we be in tune enough to hear and answer HIS call.
Jesus said, Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. AND the second is like unto it, thou shalt LOVE THY NEIGHBOR as thyself. Matt 22:37-39’
Here is the information if you are a Clark County resident Clark County Nevada Child Haven: (702)604-1165 Dawn Sanchez OR contact your local Child Haven for your state or county.
3. Become a Casa Worker
If you are interested in being a little more involved than just a volunteer at Child Haven, then a Casa Worker is a fabulous option. CASA volunteers thoroughly research the case they are assigned by reading documents and speaking to everyone involved… including the child. A CASA volunteer works with the other parties in the case to ensure that the case is progressing and that the Court’s recommendations are being followed. He/she also facilitates visits among the siblings and/or family members. They help to decide about services the child needs things such as substance abuse counseling or special education testing. CASA volunteers may be the only consistent adults the child knows as he/she moves through the maze of the child welfare system.
4. Fundraise or Donate
There are constant needs and many ways to give to foster children. I love the current campaign that Simone Biles shares her story as a foster child and that she teamed up with Mattress Firm. They are in need of clothes, supplies, presents, and so much more. Look up your local chapters and find ways to donate or set up a yard sale and donate the proceeds. These children are in need and we are the ones who are supposed to be helping. Do not rely on someone else to help these children. Here is a website with some options.
As you can see there are many ways and plenty more if you just do a little research. Our Father in Heaven is counting on us to serve these, HIS children and by doing so we are serving Him. It may seem like a sacrifice, but it will change you for the better. My eyes as well as my family’s eyes have been opened to a whole new world. A world that is shaping us into the people are Father in Heaven is wanting us to become.
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