Category Archives: Your help

10 Simple Gift Ideas For Teens In Foster Care

When I was in foster care I was lucky enough to live in group home where I was able to make a Christmas list. Our group home was good at finding donations to make it possible for us to receive some nice things. We also live in a community that is very giving with their donations for those less fortunate. I never really knew what to put on my gift list. I wasn’t used to asking people for things, not from my family and especially not from “strangers”. Since I hadn’t known my foster parents long, they didn’t know what to get me. It’s hard to buy for teenagers, especially teenagers you may not know too well. Here are 10 simple gift ideas for teens in foster care.

  • New clothes and shoes- A child in foster care doesn’t get much of a clothing allowance. Especially when you factor in sometimes needing higher priced items like shoes and coats. Getting clothing donations was great but I always hoped to get some new clothes for Christmas. It’s hard enough fitting in while in high school, especially as a foster kid so feeling good in some new clothes or shoes is a self-esteem boost.
  • Prepaid phone- nowadays everyone needs to stay in contact. Teens especially those in foster care need to get out into the world to figure things out but I recommend any teenager having a way of getting in contact with you at any time. A prepaid phone is a great way to keep that contact while also giving a little responsibility. Since it’s prepaid they can rack up a bill. Also since they have a “bill” there’s more incentive to maintain a job to keep it going.You can get a prepaid phone for as little as $20.
  • Book- An educational or inspirational book is always a great gift. As a teen in foster care, they may have to go out into a tough world and figure some things out. They will also face tough times mentally and work on discovering who they are. Sometimes a great book with a little insight can give a different perspective. I was given a book gift called “Wild At Heart” that I remember to this day. Also, educational books about life situation will get teens prepared for the real world. Books can be expensive and can sometimes be found cheaper on the internet.
  • Journal- A Journal is a great gift for teenagers in foster care. Writing is a great way of getting out emotions in safe way. There were many times when frustrated with my situation that I would write. With this, I was also able to look back on my experiences. There were many reminders of good things I had forgotten about or maybe taken for granted at the time. There were also tough times that when I looked back on gave me the strength to push forward during other obstacles.
  • A class or lesson- Going into the world I never really felt like I had a trade. Some people are tech savvy, others mechanically inclined, or maybe how to build something. If your foster kid is pretty good at or interested in a trade, you can get him classes or lessons to learn more. A hobby is therapeutic and can also earn some extra money when things get tight.
  • Gear from a favorite sports team- Sports fans with the favorite team usually love anything that has their team on it. It pretty much doesn’t even matter what it is. If you can find out your foster child’s favorite team check out the sports store or website.
  • Spa day, makeover, or nail certificate- For those with young women, a spa day, makeover, or getting a certificate to get their nails done are great gift ideas. Maybe she’s in need of a new hairstyle. Some young women have never had the chance to be pampered or do extra things like getting their nails done. What doesn’t girl like to be pampered?
  • A blanket- One of the most memorable gifts I received was a blanket. It was a gift that I used often and still have to this day. Blankets can always be used and can meet a real need. Blankets are something that you can also take with you. Hopefully, it’s a gift that can carry good memories with through their foster care journey.
  • Gift card- Many people don’t like to give gift card because they aren’t personal. At the same time, I’ve never known anyone that doesn’t like to receive money. There are gift card to different places such as restaurants, or to iTunes, and Google play stores if you know your teen has a preference. Gift cards are always a great fall back gift in any situation.
  • A simple toy- Sometimes we over think gift giving. Teenagers like to act adult like and not like kid stuff. Give a teenager a simple child’s game, a toy car set or one of those finger skateboards and bet they don’t play with it. They may not when they are sitting in front of everyone but I bet they will at some point, and love every minute of it. Teenagers, just like adults, sometimes want to relive those kid moments. some may have never had a chance to have them.

My favorite part of the holidays is giving gifts to others. It always feels good to give somebody a smile, let them know they were thought of, or even help them out. Gift giving for foster children doesn’t have to be complicated. Many are just thankful for a safe home and being thought of.

5 Places You Can Donate To Help Foster Kids

As we’re shopping for others or ourselves, we often forget about those that are really in need. We can make excuses but think how much you spent on Christmas.. could you afford an extra present or two for a child in foster care that may be getting nothing? What if I told you some kids were only asking for a football or school supplies, new shoes or a coat? It’s quick and easy to make an impact. Here are 5 places you can make a worthwhile donation to support foster kids:

One Simple Wish
This is probably my favorite way to donate online! Wouldn’t  it be cool to see exactly what your money is doing to help foster kids. What if there was a website that was easy to use, with a list of wishes foster kids had? One Simple Wish is just that,  an awesome way to directly help kids in foster care. They have set up a website where you can browse through hundreds of wishes posted on behalf of foster and at risk kids across the U.S. There are a wide variety of wishes being asked for all under $500 and some as low as $10. Many items being  asked for are simple things  like new shoes or school supplies. To browse through wishes click here.

Dave Thomas Foundation
Moving out of my group home, it was hard knowing that I was leaving my younger brothers behind. Even though our foster home was really great, no kid should have to spend their childhood in foster care. Sadly there are stigmas and misconceptions about kids in foster care that make some people think foster kids will be problematic. Sometimes the process can have some red tape and sometimes more needs to be done to make sure kids are getting adopted by permanent loving homes.

The Dave Thomas Foundations envisions every child having a permanent loving home. They don’t believe that children should spend a long amount of time in foster care or age out without family at 18. They believe every child is adoptable and work hard to find homes for those waiting to be adopted from foster care. They inform about the misconceptions of foster care adoption, provide free educational resources, promote awareness, and assist policy makers and employers across the use and Canada. To help the Dave Thomas Foundation in their cause click here to donate.

CASA
The National Casa Association is a nationwide program that recruits, trains, and supports volunteers that represent the best interest of the children in foster care in court rooms and other meetings. Their volunteers spend time with the foster kids, meet the parents and get to know everyone involved in the case. They then speak on behalf of the child’s best interest in the case.

I personally know a couple people that volunteer for CASA and have a lot of respect for those that want to give back in this way. There are a lot of emotional hardships especially for those that aren’t familiar with how the system (or those involved in it) operates. As a foster kid I can recall looking at everyone involved in my case and thinking “All these people are paid to do a job”. The goal of their job may not be what a foster kid feels is in their best interest. As a foster kid it’s nice to know someone like a CASA volunteer, somebody with no agenda, is on your side. To help CASA speak out for the best interest of kids in foster care click here to donate.

Foster Care Alumni of America

As many people already know, networking with those going through similar issues can be a tremendous boost. That’s part of the reason I started ImAFoster.com. It helps emotionally to know that others are going through some of the same situations and that many have made it through. It helps foster kids discover things other foster kids have found out to become successful and achieve their goals. Also anytime you get a bunch of people from the same situation together you get ideas and push to create change. How better represents those in the foster care system more that those that have been foster kids themselves?

Foster Care Alumni of America was founded and is led by alumni of the foster care system. They are a national non-profit that provides opportunities for foster care alumni to interact and they also work to transform the foster care system. Foster Care Alumni of America share alumni stories, participate in events and chat rooms, attend meeting, and continue to build networks across the nation. They work to influence practice and policy in foster care through participation in committees, providing training to those working with foster kids and by raising public awareness about issues kids in foster care face.

Foster Care To Success
Imagine going out into the world on your own as a foster kid. No family support system or real guidance. Most foster kids will face obstacles such as poverty, homelessness, and mental health issues. Many know that getting a better education can get them a better paying job, a better lifestyle, a life not on assistance. There are so many obstacles for a foster kid looking to continue their education after high school.

That’s where Foster to Success comes in. They are the largest national nonprofit that works solely with college bound foster kids. For over 30 years they have been helping foster kids navigate academics, teach the importance of financial responsibility, and determine their career goals. Since 1981 Foster to success has helped over 50,000 foster children transition from foster care to adulthood.

Foster Care Myths Busted: The Top Five

Thousands of children in the United Kingdom are in need of foster care either on a permanent or short-term basis. Although fostering requires energy, dedication and commitment, carers can make a real difference to a child’s life.

Caring for a child when others are unable to and providing a stable, secure and loving home environment can ensure a vulnerable child has the necessary support and an ideal situation in which to develop and thrive. There are many myths that surround the fostering process. Perhaps you believe that simply seeking to improve a child’s prospects may not be reason enough to consider a career as a carer? Yet, what better reason is there?

Preconceptions concerning foster care can put many people off applying for the process but contrary to popular belief, almost anyone can apply to be a foster carer. To shed some light on the situation, here are five common myths on foster care.

1.  Your familial situation does not dictate your suitability
You do not need to be married in order to be a successful foster carer. Marital status neither determines an ability to interact with children nor to successfully respond to their needs. Whether you are single, married or have a partner is irrelevant to your potential to apply.

2. Being a parent is not a prerequisite
Having your own children will not ensure your suitability as a foster parent. Parenthood is full of pitfalls and certainly doesn’t dictate suitability for the task.

3. Age is but a number
You can apply to be a foster carer from the age of 18, although some foster services, including Fostering Solutions, set a minimum age of 21 as life experience can be a crucial quality for a caring role. You can also continue fostering past retirement age, as long as you are well and in good health.

4. Money doesn’t buy happiness
Nor does it guarantee suitability as a foster carer. Prospective foster parents need to be financially stable but they do not need to be wealthy. Owning your own home is not a prerequisite for applying to be a carer and sustaining a stable tenancy can be equally suitable.

5. Diversity is not a limiting factor
Sexual preference and religious or cultural persuasion are not deciding factors for success in the fostering process. Fostering services recruit carers from a wide range of backgrounds in order to meet the needs of the diverse children requiring care.

Foster carers cannot be compartmentalised other than for their ability to respond positively to the children placed within their care. Fostering Solutions outlines the very few restrictions placed on potential carers so visit www.fosteringsolutions.com for more information.

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