Hurry up! — Top 10 holiday gifts for foster kids

December 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm 38 comments

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:





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.”





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What makes a good foster mom? … … a reader asks. are YOU guilty of treating foster kids like trash?

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ann  |  December 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I really liked reading your post and thought the food bin idea is a great one most people probably wouldn’t think of. I’m not so certain about the dog idea though. While I agree that it’s probably good to have interactions with animals, and maybe assist in caring for them, I’m not sold on the own a dog part. Although, I do agree with you that banning dogs from foster homes seems a bit strange. I could understand it for a case by case bases (maybe for someone allergic or violent or a violent dog) but not state wide.

    • 2. Ann  |  December 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

      Sorry, hit reply soon. I meant to add that it’s not that foster kids shouldn’t have a dog, I’m more talking in general that, dogsare not right for everyone or every situation especially considering the dogs needs and life span. I think people get dogs too quickly sometimes. Which is the only reason I’m unsure of them bing a ‘gift for anyone’.

      • 3. Another Time  |  December 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm

        Some states allow pets

      • 4. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm

        i understand. the commitment needed for a pet is important. once i saw a thing that many people get puppies to give as gifts for christmas and then when they get like 5-6 months old, they wind up in the shelter.

        clearly, a family needs to make a committment to a dog as much as a committment to caring for a foster child.

        dogs are NOT throw-away creatures

        • 5. Another Time  |  December 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm

          I was looking at one of those shelter pet ads on a website earlier. It said doesn’t she (a kitten was pictured) deserve a home for the holidays? I think it should say doesn’t she deserve a home IN TIME for the holidays. It’s like they don’t believe the kitten will stay in the new home forever… 😦

  • 6. Sunday Koffron Taylor  |  December 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Great list L.T., the photos are a great idea, their are years where I have no photos. Also love the idea of a dog, my dog Sadie taught me a lot about life and love.

    • 7. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      No one thinks that photos are important. But when you get to adulthood and have none, they are really important.

      I had a few which all got lost on the streets; so now I have none. Not a single picture of my childhood.

      I had a lifebook which I burned as a pre-teen because it was getting ridiculously confusing and some foster homes didn’t do it and some did. waste.

  • 8. Facing West  |  December 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Very good ideas here. I work at a large group home and we have therapy dogs come and visit. The kids love them and the dogs love it. I think the pictures is also an excellent suggestion. Some kids keep Lifebooks, but many do not or they get destroyed. Kids could carry pictures easily.

    • 9. Ann  |  December 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      Actually thanks for mentioning about the therapy dogs!. It’s kind of one of my goals to train a therapy dog one day and go around places. I didn’t know they would visit Foster children, but I will now keep that in mind and look into it for the future… I’ll also pass it on to some of my therapy dog friends.

  • 10. Lee  |  December 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I have to agree with all the commentors saying what a great list this is. I especially like the mentor idea as it is something that I have been thinking about for aged out foster kids and if it started when they were younger and could be on-going that would be even better.

    And I think pets of almost any kind are a help but especially dogs and cats. We have one of each and I notice that one of mine always pets them a lot when he is feeling stressed.
    I’d like to add one more thing to your list. Celebrate normal holidays in normal ways with foster kids. Tomorrow we are making a longish drive to a big city where my daughter (who is technically a foster child because the only way for her to get services and be safe is to be in state care) to celebrate her birthday. We are also bringing all her Christmas gifts so they will be under the tree when she wakes up on Christmas morning. (I’d love to have her hear Christmas day but she isn’t ready yet, hopefully next yr) She gets what all my kids get. A home made cake on her birthday. Gifts on her birthday etc. Foster should not mean less.

    • 11. Laurie  |  December 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      Good list. Remember to treat yourself kindly at least once today.

    • 12. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      believe it or not, i originally had PROVIDE NORMALITY on the list. and i meant exactly what you said. let kids have a life — celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. let them take part in life, clubs, sports, etc. let them experience being a normal kid.
      i guess it should have been TOP 11.
      have a good visit with your daughter.

  • 13. Another Time  |  December 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Good one, Elle! 😉

  • 14. Brittany P  |  December 23, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I have been reading your blog for some time. Thank you for the insight into the ups and downs of the foster care system. I am a CSA survivor, and can relate to many of these feelings and posts. However, I was not in the foster care system and appreciate you sharing your experiences with us.

    Because of this particular post, I feel compelled to initiate contact with my local CASA office to look into training to become one. I have been thinking about it for some time, but this post jogged it thus more.

    Keep writing, keep pushing through. You have inspired me, for one.

  • 15. butterflysblog  |  December 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

    This is such a great list!! I never would have thought of the food bin idea – what a smart way to help foster children feel in control of their own food. That way, they can eat what they want at meal time and also have a food supply in their own room. What a great idea! I think I am going to make a looseleaf binder of these ideas and other posts from this blog so that when I become a foster parent, I have a headstart on helping my new child make the transition a bit easier.

    • 16. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      yeh. it worked great. eventually when a child feels safe and secure that there will be food available, the food bin does not become so important.

      once my foster mom removed a rotting banana without me being there and i freaked out. i felt like something was stolen from me that i might have needed.
      now in reality, if the foster mom had talked with me about it, i would have probably let her take it and trash it….but i felt violated in a way.

      that is why i say to make sure you talk with the child if you think things need to be removed. don’t just take.

  • 17. Julie  |  December 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for your blog. I am a parent signed up and awaiting placement of a child in need of fost/adopt. Our social worker has told us that no one would be placed with us over the holidays. I know that’s probably what works for most people, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s what s/he is wanting for Christmas. I know it’s what we want!
    There is not much information to be found on foster kids to help us prepare, so I really appreciate you taking the time to blog about your experience.

    • 18. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

      yes, i bet there are lots of kids wanting a family for christmas. i was one and there were many others too.
      sometimes unless it is an emergency, i think they try not to place children in new homes around holidays because it is “chaotic” (like foster care is not chaotic already)

      most of the information that is found on foster kids stinks, quite frankly. alot of myths, false information, confusion, and flat out lies.

      the best sources of information are recent foster kids or “GOOD” foster parents.

      good luck, feel free to ask any questions that might help you. there are alot of foster parents that read sometimes.

  • 19. h  |  December 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    LT…cats rule!!!

    • 20. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      LOL. i knew a cat-fan would give me shit.

      don’t get me wrong…i love cats too. Harbor pretty much makes me laugh everyday by his antics, especially when he is high on cat-nip.
      but, let’s be real…cats are really into themselves. LOL
      and can be so rejecting.

      LT: “here Harbor, i need some attention”
      Harbor: “ah screw you LT, im sitting in the sun”

      its just how they are. they love on their terms…and if they are busy, well — come back laiter. LOL

      i saw a sign once
      “cats rule, dogs drool.”

      all animals are beautiful and i wouldnt trade mine for a million doallars.

      i think those big fat orange tabby cats are “love all the time cats”…they might work.

      • 21. Another Time  |  December 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

        Lol I forgot all about that one.

  • 22. LooneyTunes  |  December 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Score 1 for Elle, a cat-fan!

    Those big fat orange tabby cats seem to love all the time. Since I have only had experience with one cat, I am basing my experience on Harbor.

    See below.

  • 23. JoanP  |  December 26, 2010 at 10:03 am

    LT, I live overseas, and fostering is not something we can do right now. (We do have an adopted son, in addition to our bio children.) But your blogs like this one are so good. I keep bookmarking them because I don’t know what the future holds and my heart is definitely pulled toward fostering. I should probably just print out a lot of your posts and put them in a binder, like another reader mentioned. I seriously hope that one day your writings are published in a collection for foster parents, as a guide and an educational tool. You are making an important contribution that can change the future for many children. Please take care. I have been thinking of you so much this week.

    • 24. Krissy  |  August 16, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Hi there, I have a 12 year old care daughter as well as my own (18 year girls, 26 independent boy). Our wee girl will be reunified with mum (fingers crossed!) just after christmas. She also has an 11 yr old sister in care (we are friends with carer and girls spend lots of time together), and an 8 year old half sister who is with birth mum. My question is should we buy 2 or 3 of everything so the girls are treated the same (encourage much needed bonding) or treat them as individuals? I have a lot more money available then birth mum or other carer and I would be happy to help out. I could easily stock up the girls clothes, shoes, school supplies, games, toys etc. Just not sure what would be best for the girls. Any ideas? Also, please keep writting. We need your help with our kiddos!

  • 25. Steve  |  December 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Do you mind if I share this with my fellow CASA’s? We just graduated this last October 2012 and this is a good idea

  • 26. Krystal  |  January 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I was hoping to get your permission to use your blog in our CASA training.

  • 27. daria  |  November 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t have much time and energy, but around the holidays I and many others want to give thanks. There’s all the make a wish moments for folks out there, but never enough. I found myself here after goggling a way to give back this year, I’ve moved and haven’t established at a free clinic yet in this state. I’ve worked at the food pantry, the homeless shelter, the homeless health clinic and I wonder if there’s away to “spoil” a foster kid for a day. Get them a food trunk, a shopping spree of sorts for clothing, and pick out a blanket, a fresh pillow, a toy and a book. I guess it’s hard to coordinate. I’ll call the DCS and see if they have a suggestion on how to help someone. At least I’d like to learn what I can do on a limited basis before I have more time to do the big step other than hug the snot out of my kiddo and pray for the rest.

  • 28. Livia  |  December 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

    This is a great article. My best friend has two foster girls ages 3 and 9. I wanted to get the 9 year old something meaningful. I may elaborate on the photo album idea and get her a scrapbook and supplies and have some pictures printed. I also thought about getting her a journal. Thanks for all of your advice. You are helping us so much in this journey with these amazing kids 🙂

  • 29. Jennifer Kaysen  |  December 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I’m a writer for CASA of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. I love your articles and would like to share them with our CASA of CGS family. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  • […] Toys are nice and always loved, but, there are gifts that will leave a lasting impression. “I Was a Foster Child” has offered 10 holiday gift ideas for Foster […]

  • 31. tashkent tour package from delhi  |  August 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    tashkent tour package from delhi

    Hurry up! – Top 10 holiday gifts for foster kids | I Was A Foster Kid

  • 32. Christmas Tips | I Was A Foster Kid  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    […] Click here […]

  • 33. Stephanie  |  December 8, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you, LT. You make such an important difference.

  • 34. Christyna  |  December 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I love reading your blog. Would it be okay if I use some of your points in our Quarterly Newsletter to foster parents.

  • 35. christina matanick  |  December 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    We included a link to this resource on our Facebook page for ReMoved Film. Thanks so much!

  • […] Toys are nice and always loved, but, there are gifts that will leave a lasting impression. “I Was a Foster Child” has offered 10 holiday gift ideas for Foster […]

  • 37. laura  |  November 8, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    My husband and I are in the process of becoming foster parents. I love reading your blog. I have gotten so many great ideas. I would like to share this article with the others in my class.

    You are really inspiring.

  • 38. Daysha S,ith  |  December 3, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Hi, my name is Daysha Monique Smith. I am 14 years old and I just want to be able o celebrate Christmas this year. I live at Boys town in Trabuco Canyon and I want me and my little brother to be able to get gifts this year.


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