Ten Ways to Support Foster Care (Without Fostering!)

An elementary school aged girl dressed in a unicorn-themed costume smiles.

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

Many folks want to support foster care, but aren’t in a position to open their homes to a child or youth in care. 

Is it still possible to help?  Absolutely!  Here are ten ways you can step forward to support foster care.

  1. Hire a Youth in Care

Are you a small business owner or manager?  Do you hire for summer/after school/weekend work?  Reach out to your local fostering agency and submit a job description.  If there is a young person who meets the job requirements, they can send that person to you!  Youth in care need job skills and will generally enter independent life earlier than their peers, so work experience is very important.

  1. Send a Meal

When you are maxed out, the last thing you want to do is figure out (and prepare) dinner.  Fostering families are often stretched to the limit with welcome in new children, taking kids to appointments (weekly family visitation, weekly therapy, meetings with case managers, catching up on doctor’s appointments, attending school meetings, etc), and basic life (working full time, being partners, being parents, self-care).  Send a gift certificate to your local foster care agency for a family in your area.  A $25 gift certificate to a local pizza place goes a long way and can really brighten a day!

  1. Offer Services

What can you offer?  Could you hold a car wash for foster families or agency workers?  Are you a photographer and could offer a complimentary Senior Picture photo shoot?  Could you do nails, hair, or makeup for a young person’s prom?  Are you a math whiz and could tutor a kiddo who needs a little extra support?  Do you speak another language and might be a resource for a child whose family speaks that language?  Could you run a group for young people on writing resumes or job interview skills? Whatever you do, how could you offer your skills?

  1. Gift of Green (Thumbs, that is)

Are you a gardener?  Do you send every visitor to your home away with an armload of zucchini?  Do your flowers bloom so brightly that even the bees are overwhelmed?  Send some of that bounty to a foster family!  Drop off veggies, fruits, and berries to your local fostering agency and they will be sure it makes it to the tables and taste buds of fostering families or biological families who could put your produce to good use.  Donate a bouquet of flowers to an agency and we will make sure it brightens the day of a kiddo who needs a little pick-me-up!

  1. Run a Donation Drive or Fundraiser

Children in care often arrive with very little.  This includes clothing, shoes, coats, seasonal items (think bathing suits to snow boots), school supplies, and hygiene products.  There are also intangible needs that our foster parents and agency try to supplement, like extracurricular clubs, lessons, and camps.  There are sensory support items, sporting equipment, and recreational items.  Get together with friends, colleagues, or community members to run a book/toy/coat/toothbrush drive, or host a fundraising event like a bake sale/car wash/dance-a-thon to support kids in care.  Need help planning?  Just ask an agency (like us)!

  1. Sponsor a Wishlist

Here at JRI, we have our “Foster Friends of JRI” group.  These are folks who we reach out to when we have a specific need or wish.  This can range from working together to outfit an entire sibling set of three who arrive in February with nothing by pajamas to purchasing a book for a little boy who read all but two of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books.  Foster Friends pitch in when they can.  Most can’t help every time, but just once makes a difference!  Sign up for our group or a similar group to support kids in care when you can.

  1. Volunteer

COVID-19 certainly diminished the ability to volunteer in person, but it is coming back!  Whether it is volunteering to wrap gifts around the holidays, to help run an art therapy group, to sort donations, or to pack books for our monthly Book Drops, volunteers really allow our staff to do the things we do! 

  1. Offer Experiences

Could you donate tickets to the zoo, aquarium, Edaville Railroad, Santa’s Village, Canobie Lake Park, Wachusett Mountain, or another experience?  We love helping create childhood memories!  If you have tickets or an experience to offer, contact us (or another foster care agency).

  1. Host an Info Session

If you are part of a community group, club, or organization, plan an informational session!  Invite a Foster Care Homefinder to join your group for a coffee hour/meeting/get together to educate folks about foster care.  You never know who may have been considering opening their doors to foster care and was just waiting for the right opportunity!

  1. Post Information

Whether it is on the bulletin board of your local community center or on the wall of your social media accounts, post information about foster care agencies, foster care facts, and foster care stories.  The more people know about foster care, the more likely they are to find ways to help, whether it is one of the above-mentioned methods or by becoming a licensed foster parent!  Information is power, so harness that power and post away!

There you go, ten ways to support foster care without becoming a licensed foster home!  To keep up to date on needs in our foster care program and support opportunities, join our Foster Friends of JRI group on Facebook.  We look forward to seeing you there!  


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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.