May is Foster Care Awareness Month and Olive Crest has partnered with us to bring you this information.
Zack is sitting at the dinner table, quietly eating his meal. He was just told that he’ll be moving to a new home after school tomorrow. After a minute he asks “Will I be going home to my mom?” Mom still has some things she needs to work on before he can go back home with her, so the answer is no.
Zack came into foster care when police were called to his home for domestic violence concerns. His parents were found to be active drug users, and home was in such poor condition that police determined Zack couldn’t safely stay there. This will be Zack’s 3rd move in a year, his 4th if you count when he was removed from his home.
Unfortunately, there are many children facing Zack’s situation in Foster Care. In America, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. In Washington those reports of abuse have resulted in over 9,000 children in the foster care system. That is a large number on an already burdened system. If we take into account a recent report stating that there is a shortage of over 1600 foster homes across Washington, the problem can seem downright overwhelming.
There is something we can do to help. May is Foster Care Awareness month a time designated to recognize how we can each play a role supporting foster children. The problem might seem overwhelming but each of us can get involved in supporting foster kids and foster families. I know, it sounds hard – taking care of kids from hard places. It brings up a lot of thoughts: I don’t know if I could ever do that. How will it impact my kids? What if I love them and then they leave my house? I would like to help, but I don’t know that I have the time. To help you process your thoughts, here are some ways you can learn more about foster care, foster kids and help answer questions you might have.
- Talk to current foster parents. Do you know someone currently involved in foster care? Ask them about their experience. What was hard for them? How did they deal with their fears or reservations?
- Talk to a foster care organization: Olive Crest works with foster families and the foster care system daily. We have resources and expertise to answer questions and help prepare people for their foster care journey. Our staff would love to walk with you in this process.
- Attend a foster care 101 session: Olive Crest has developed a class to help answer common questions and provide insight into what the foster care journey could look like. How much does it cost? What resources and supports are there? What does it take to become foster licensed? These and many other questions are answered via Foster Care 101.
- Volunteer: Maybe you’re not sure if you could be a foster parent, or you know right now isn’t the right time. You can volunteer at your local Olive Crest office and help foster kids and foster families. Our Foster Parent night out events are a great way to get involved, see foster kids in a fun environment and provide foster parents with a much needed date night.
- Get involved with your church: Are there foster families at your church? Does your church have an orphan care/foster care ministry, formal or informal? Many churches in the region are getting involved in helping to support foster children and foster families and are a good place to connect with experienced and like-minded families. If you’re church isn’t actively involved, let us know, we would love to connect help raise awareness and develop good support systems for and with your church.
It might be a while before Zack can return home, in the meantime he needs a place to call home, a place where he can process whatever pain he has experienced. He needs someone to love and support him, to be a role model and help him grow. He needs someone who is willing to be a difference in his life. That someone could be you.
Olive Crest invites you to learn more about becoming a foster parent, a selfless ministry that gives again and again to future generations. Learn how you can make a difference in children’s lives, through Olive Crest through fostering or donating. Visit today!
Author Bio: Anibal is the Community Engagement Director at Olive Crest where he uses his passion for foster care advocacy to help equip churches and families to engage in caring for foster children and foster families. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org