Here are few examples of the needs that Foster Friends meets for vulnerable children living in foster care.
At-Home Fun During Covid-19
In 2020, children in foster care, who had already lost so much due to their life circumstances, faced further losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the spring and summer lockdown of 2020, Foster Friends developed a Fun at Home gift card program, to provide Collin County children in foster care with funds to purchase educational and other enrichment materials for home use.
At-Home Celebrations During Covid-19
Recognizing that the Covid-19 pandemic was preventing many children from hosting birthday parties with their friends, Foster Friends implemented a program to send gift cards to Collin County children in foster care for their birthdays in 2020 and 2021. With the help of their caregivers, children are able to use their gift cards to purchase party supplies or birthday presents during their birth months. Similarly, Foster Friends expanded its holiday gift program in 2020 to spread cheer during a difficult year.
Keeping kids and their possessions together
While in state care, an abused or neglected child may move from an abusive home, to a relative’s house, to a foster home or two, before finally returning home or being adopted. Sometimes a child’s modest possessions are packed in trash bags and delivered to the child’s new home by a caseworker. In other cases, children arrive in a new home with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
When an abused child from Collin County had the opportunity to be adopted by a loving family that lived thousands of miles away, she risked leaving all of her possessions behind. Foster Friends stepped in to pay the costs of shipping her clothes and toys to help her feel right at home.
Teaching Teens to Drive
Teens who “age out” of foster care when they turn 18 face unique challenges that frequently lead to unemployment and even homelessness in early adulthood. Often, they’ve never had a supportive adult to teach them to drive, manage money, pursue education, or maintain employment.
Foster Friends helps teens transition into adulthood by paying for driver’s education. With their licenses, teens in foster care have an easier time landing their first jobs and preparing for adulthood.
Keeping Kids Involved
Sports and extra-curricular activities teach teamwork and promote good health. But for foster kids, they mean so much more. For children who are used to being left out, being involved in team-building exercises means finally having the opportunity to be included with their peers.
From ballet, to wrestling, to cheerleading camp, Foster Friends makes sure abused and neglected children are able to participate in after-school activities with their peers.
Providing a Place to Sleep
When children are removed from an abusive home, the state first turns to biological relatives to open their homes. Relatives are often frantic to help, but suddenly becoming responsible for a child, (or two, or three, or four!), can be an overwhelming financial responsibility.
Recently, a young child had to be removed from an abusive home and placed with a relative who was caught off guard. Foster Friends helped them transform a spare room into a cozy bedroom. Small comforts like this make all the difference.
Supporting Academic Success
Students in foster care start out behind. In addition to overcoming poverty and abuse, foster children must also struggle with the frequent moves and school transfers associated with lacking a permanent family. These factors create educational gaps which can be almost insurmountable.
Consider this real-life Foster Friends success story: A neglected child whose parents had not sent him to school struggled when his new caregivers placed him in an elementary school for the first time. Foster Friends negotiated a discount with a summer reading tutor and paid for the lessons he needed to help him advance to the next grade level with his peers.