In 1988, President Reagan instituted that the month of May would be the nation’s time to praise those who work in our foster care system. Ever since then, we have applauded the efforts of those involved in child welfare through foster care for the over 430,000 children in the system. Whether they invite children into their homes, support family members, create policies to improve care, or create safe situations as a child’s social worker, their efforts are commended for the well-being of the innocent. National Foster Care Month is a time to celebrate those who step in when children are at their most vulnerable — the professionals and families who are in the trenches, many times as only a temporary fixture in that child’s life.

If we claim to advocate for adoption and for children, we must also pay attention to foster care and celebrate those individuals. A month of appreciation goes a long way to encourage these families and professionals, but what about the other eleven months of the year? What can we do to support the foster care community and better the overall experience? Below, you can choose from this list of ten items that allow everyone to do something to be involved in foster care right there in your own community.

1. Become a foster parent.

Foster parents are becoming more and more sparse, and you could be one that provides the home, love, and connection for a child who needs it. Don’t know where to start? Call your local foster care organizations and find out how.

2. Advocate for foster care.

Contact your state and local representatives about funding, support, and laws that provide protection for the children and those caring for them in foster care. Express your support for efforts to improve and maintain child welfare laws and bring attention to the foster care system’s needs.

3. Host an information night for new foster parents.

Provide a place at your church or place of business for your local foster care group to have an informational meeting where they can invite people in to attend a training on how to become a foster parent.

4. Use your talents/gifts to offer support to families in foster care.

Volunteer to babysit, give an oil change, cook meals, give a haircut, tutor, etc.

5. Create a support group.

Offer a place and time for a support group to help those in the middle of foster care.

6. Start a resource closet.

Collect needed items that families in foster care could have available to them when they are caring for children.

7. Make a list for their medical card.

Provide a list to foster parents of doctors, dentists, etc. who will accept the medical card for children who are in foster care.

8. Recruit others.

Bring awareness to these families by starting a ministry at your church or encouraging others in your community to provide assistance for those families in foster care as they need it.

9. Be willing to provide assistance to biological parents.

Children who are in foster care have the hope to return to their biological parents when they have improved their living situation. Be willing to offer assistance to a parent who may need job training, interview skills, GED certification, budgeting classes, clothing, counseling, rehab, etc.

10. Pray.

If you pray, pray for the strength of those individuals who are in the middle of foster care, for their relationships and even for how you can support them during National Foster Care Month or any other month of the year.

Share to help spread awareness of National Foster Care Month and inspire others to get involved!