A whole bunch of arms
It will take the arms of all of us to wrap around our nation’s hurting children. Some of those arms will choose to bring a child home and hold her safe. Others are only needed to send an email or sign an online petition. Still others will join the legal arm and advocate in court as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or become a policy maker. It doesn’t matter if you help for five minutes or five years; we need whatever time you can give, in whatever way you want to give it.
Everyone can do something. Pick a number, any number…
A Dozen Ways To Make A Difference
- Pay attention. Abused and neglected kids are in every community around the country. Just look at the daily news. Knowing they exist is a good first step. While you’re at it, offer up a prayer or send a good thought their way.
- Google it. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips. Learn more about the challenges facing kids in the system. Check out this report from Every Child Matters Education Fund: http://goo.gl/gVV7rR. Learn about what the experts say can help at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/policy-toolkit/
- Learn about the political process. Where does your state stand on the funding and support it gives to protective service agencies? Learn tips and tools on how to advocate successfully for young children at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/policy-toolkit/.
- Speak Up. Let your congressmen know you value quality care and support for vulnerable kids. You can locate contact info at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/Children in foster care rarely have a voice. They need yours.
- Volunteer at community programs that help children who have been abused or neglected or children who are considered at-risk. There are dozens of them in your area, and many rely a great deal on the service of volunteers. Your financial support is just as important as the gift of your time.
- Support a teen aging out of foster care. Visit http://camellianetwork.org/to learn more about some of our country’s teens that have aged out and how you can help them. They put a face on foster care.
- Volunteer at a local school. Many schools, especially schools who serve children living in poverty, need volunteers to read with children, plan classroom activities, or otherwise help wherever needed. Nothing is quite as powerful as the loving presence of someone who chooses to be present in places most people don’t go unless they must.
- Offer your professional services to a serve kids at risk. Whatever your profession or skill, there is likely a way to use it to help an abused or neglected child. For example, a pharmacist volunteered to answer all questions about medications prescribed for foster children. A hairdresser offered free haircuts for children and families who had trouble making ends meet. There are endless ways to make your own unique contribution.
- Support foster parents who have opened their hearts and homes to children. If you know devoted foster parents who are tirelessly caring and advocating for foster children, thank them for their efforts and do something nice for their family. Think dinner or movie tickets.
- Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Volunteering as a CASA puts you in the position of helping influence critical issues relating to a child. A CASA is a courtroom presence, where life and death decisions are made every day. Visit www.nationalcasa.org for more information.
- Become a foster parent. It takes a big heart and lots of courage to provide comfort, safety and love for a child who has never experienced such. Loving foster parents change the lives of children. It will be hard but also potentially the most important thing you’ve ever done.
- Become a forever family for a child who desperately needs one. Adoption is the ultimate gift you can give a ‘legal orphan’ who belongs to a government system as opposed to a loving family. There are thousands of children awaiting adoption in our country. Without adoptive parents, a child will languish in the system and transition into adulthood without support.