An organization in Oregon is working to connect foster kids with more than just a place to stay — the goal is to build an entire support network from local communities. Every Child works closely with Oregon's Department of Human Services (DHS) to meet that need.
"We know that Oregon's communities want to take action, and just don't know where to begin," Every Child says on its website. "Many of us feel helpless, doing northing or never considering foster parenting."
While Every Child does work to bring in foster parents, it also cooperates with DHS in order to bring in donations or volunteers so that others can contribute if becoming a foster parent isn't an option.
"By doing so, we’re able to bring love, care, and support to children in foster care and families who previously had nowhere else to turn," Every Child says.
According to the organization, last year saw more than 11.2 thousand children in foster care in the state of Oregon, and the vast majority — 66.1 percent — spent time in more than one foster home. Many kids with siblings are split up from them.
"If a natural disaster hit our state and children were wandering the street without someone to care for them, each of us would open our homes to help in the crisis. With more than 11,000 children in foster care and more entering the system every day, we're in the midst of a disaster in our state," Every Child says.
Every Child has a laser focus on finding a way that just about anyone can help support foster families. The greatest need, of course, is for foster parents. However, the organization is just as open to bringing in volunteers to "meet tangible needs" that will support foster families. Monetary donations are also always welcome. And for those willing to help, but uncertain in what capacity, Every Child works with individuals to figure that out and connect with the right resources.
Volunteering with Every Child can be as simple (and as vital) as putting together a box containing basic needs for foster children going through tough transitions.
A Welcome Box goes to children coming into foster care as they wait in a child welfare office: The majority of children coming into foster care must wait in a Child Welfare office for at least two hours while a social worker tries to find them a suitable living placement. As you can imagine, this is a time of high anxiety for children. Recently removed from their home, a child’s future is now unknown.
The Launch Box goes to young adults who have aged out of foster care and helps them transition into a life of independence: Each year, nearly 1,000 youth in the state of Oregon age out of the foster care system. Launch Boxes provide a few basic necessities as these young adults transition out on their own for the first time.
WELCOME BOX - click the link here to find out more information about how you can put together a welcome box for kids entering the foster system.
LAUNCH BOX - click the link here to find out how you can help young adults leaving the foster system by putting together a launch box.
You can also help by putting together a Baby Bag. Many infants coming into foster care have nothing but a diaper and a onesie, leaving social workers scrambling to find some basic comforts for them.
The notion of a Baby Bag is simple: while the infant/baby waits in the office, a social worker picks the right bag and can wrap the baby in the blanket, give him/her a pacifier, etc. This baby bag then goes with the infant/baby to their new foster home. Since many infants/babies enter foster care with little to nothing personal, these baby bags help with their basic necessities.
BABY BAG - click the link here to find out how you can put together a baby bag for infants in need of a few basic comforts while awaiting placement with a family.