May is National Foster Care Month. It is one month out of twelve that we bring awareness to youths who are a part of the child welfare system. Right now, there are over 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan. Children who are in foster care are there through NO FAULT of their own. These children suffer from trauma after trauma at the hands of others. Some traumas are a lot more intense than others, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s still a trauma.
These children need help. There are so many ways that you can get involved:
First – ADOPT
There are over 300 children in Michigan right now who are in need of an adoptive home; a Forever Family. These children are strong, brave, resilient, and incredible humans. What they want is a normal life. What they need is for someone to take a chance on them; and not give up. To learn more about this process, visit the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, or MARE.
Second – FOSTER
There is a staggering shortage of foster homes in Michigan (and every other state as well). Not sure if fostering is right for you? Take some time to attend a free orientation at a local agency to learn more. For a list of agencies, visit DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) or MARE.
Third – MENTOR
Many of our older youths in foster care are in need of a positive role model. Someone who can be a good influence in their life. Someone to turn to, someone to talk to, someone to ask for help from. Think of everything you learned from growing up in a home with family around. How to drive a car, cut the grass, do laundry, cook. These older foster youths did not grow up in family settings. They did not learn these things we may take for granted. You could be the person who taught these kids these life skills. Visit Mentor Michigan for information on what it means to be a mentor, and how to become one.
Fourth – VOLUNTEER
Contact your local private agency or DHHS office to learn about opportunities to volunteer. Most private agencies have many events and activities throughout the year that support our foster families. There is always a need for volunteers to help work the event, clean up, or provide a service for these events.
Fifth – DONATE
Children in foster care come with close to nothing. Often times, children move from foster home to foster home. Usually leaving a little behind each time. Families involved in foster care are either the birth families fighting to get their children back or the foster families, doing what they can to care for these children. These families and children need help. They need clothing, toiletries, household items, school supplies, toys, books, shoes. They need so much. You can help by donating these new or gently used items. These items can be donated to your local DHHS office, a private agency, or the Foster Closet of Michigan.