By LaTasha Smith, CBS62/CW50 Receptionist
Children should know what it’s like to feel loved and accepted, to receive support and emotional stability. Unfortunately, there are over 14,000 children in foster care in the state of Michigan who need caring individuals to provide a nurturing and safe home environment.
“Foster Parents literally change a child’s life,” says Debora Matthews, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Center, a mental health and therapeutic agency for children. However, being a foster parent isn’t the only option to participate in a child’s life. There are many things you can do to make a difference. Sometimes extending a helping hand is all you need to do to help them understand they are not alone.
The Children’s Center has provided five things you can do to help a child in foster care.
1. Mentor: Foster children of all ages need people to help them with homework, take them to the movies, and help them participate in sports or clubs. Foster children rarely get to be involved in things beyond the basics. Music lessons, acting in a play, or on a little league team is often difficult for foster parents to manage. You can help by being an extra support for foster families.
2. Donate: Although money is always welcome, kids at The Children’s Center always need assistance with items like school supplies, hygiene products and clothing. Teenagers going off to college need dorm kits, small appliances and other items to decorate a dorm room.
3. Provide a holiday home: Many Children’s Center teens that go off to college have no place to come home to on the holidays and summer vacation. You can help by providing a welcoming family for these college students on Christmas and Spring break.
4. Volunteer at a foster care agency: The Children’s Center always need help! You will however need Child Protective Services and Police Clearances, as well as some training, but they are not difficult to obtain, and you will be able to help them in so many different ways!
5. Lastly, treat foster children like you would any other children: Kids in foster care, especially teens, don’t want to be seen as different from other kids. They don’t want you to pity them or feel sorry for them. They need you to respect them and have high expectations of them and for them. Don’t expect a show of gratitude from the “poor foster children” for the things you do for them. Understand they are like any kid, sometimes grateful, sometimes not. That doesn’t mean they are any less deserving.
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. Writing this story definitely increased my awareness. If I were to ever become a foster parent, I would like to adopt the child that no one wants. In many cases, these children may have never experienced being accepted or just feeling loved. Foster children are not as fortunate as others to be able to share special moments with their families. So let us all come together for National Foster Care Awareness Month and be the reason a child has gained hope and faith.
These tips and statistics were provided by The Children’s Center. For more information on them, visit www.thechildrenscenter.com.
For more information on adoption and foster care, watch “Street Beat” on Saturday, May 3 at 8:30am on CW50 Detroit.