Archive for December 22, 2010
There are lists for everything during the holidays…the top 10 gifts for nerds, the top 10 gifts for people who like to travel, the top 10 gifts for xxxx….. But i haven’t seen a top 10 gifts for foster children, so I feel that my job is to make one:
TOP 10 HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
1. FAMILY. For foster kids who are not going back to the bioparents, a FOREVER FAMILY. A family that will make a commitment, to adopt them if they want, make them part of the family, provide safety and stability and love. For foster kids going back “home” -- bioparents that shape up and get their act together so that the children are raised in safety, stability, love, and don’t return to foster care.
2. MENTOR. Every child in foster care NEEDS and should have a mentor. One who spends time with the child listening, having fun, helping, …something like a big brother/big sister. Studies have shown that mentors make a difference in the outcome of at-risk youth!
3. CASA. Every child should have a CASA that takes the job seriously and cares about the child. CASAs should see the child at the minimum weekly. CASAs are the voice for the child…and to be the best voice, you need to know the child. Good CASAs help everyone. Where I grew up, less than 6% of foster kids had CASAs… that is not acceptable.
4. TEACHERS. Only 54% of aged-out foster kids graduate from highschool. Teachers can change that. Teachers that show interest, provide extra help, encourage, and “teach” are needed for all foster youth. Foster kids that move schools lose 3-6 months in schooling…teachers can help make the difference between falling behind and staying on tract.
5. SERVICES AS NEED. Therapy, medical treatment, dental treatment, etc. NEEDS to be provided consistently and easily. There is no reason that foster youth need to wait months to see a doctor or never get braces. These are children and they need to be cared for.
6. DOGS. Yes, all foster children, unless known animal abusers, need a DOG. Some children learn attachment and trust and unconditional love and acceptance and relationships from dogs. (Heck, some ex-foster kids who are now young adults are learning that from dogs.) Some states do not allow foster homes to have dogs. This needs to end. Dogs are amazing and giving and loving. I was going to say cats too, but friends, lets be real….cats are well, very independent and give when they feel like it. I love my cat Harbor, but he loves me on his time. LOL
7. CLOTHES THAT FIT. I hated having clothes that were too small, shoes with holes or that hurt my feet, and clothes that looked like they were worn by 100 other foster kids. Comon’ — if you agree to foster a child, you agree to care for the child correctly. You don’t need to goto the Gap, but thrift shops can offer clothes that fit a child properly. One size does not fit all. Every kid is different!
8. FOOD BINS. Lots of foster kids are food hoarders and food hiders. Let them go to town with their own FOOD BIN that they keep in their room. Fill it with all kinds of foods that they love. If some items are perishable, spend time with the child going through the bin every couple days. NEVER remove food without the child being near. It is the child’s space and food safety net. If you have never been starving to where your stomach feels like it is eating itself or never known when your next meal will come, you may not understand the food bin concept. But it works!
9. PHOTOGRAPHS. Take photographs. Put them into a nice album. Keep extra copies. When a foster children become young adults, photos can offer glimpses into understanding their lives. Photos can hold memories. Photos can mark times that were happy. Photos can help make sense out of a mess of different experiences. Photos can act as transitional objects. Most adults have photos of themselves when they are kids, so photos can help an adult feel more connected, like “everyone else.”
UNDERSTANDING, COMPASSION, CARING,
EMPATHY, SAFETY, STABILITY, LOVE.