May is Foster Care Awareness Month in the United States.
It's an issue that can certainly use the attention, especially here in Arizona, where more than 17,000 kids are in some form of foster care. Many of those children are living in group homes or shelters.
So, how can you help?
The best way may be to become a foster parent yourself. The difference you make in a child's life could last a lifetime. If you'd like more information on how to become a foster parent, the Department of Child Safety website is a good place to start.
For whatever reason, maybe you can't commit to being a foster parent. That doesn't mean you can't help. There are a number of ways you can get involved and help foster children, including:
- Becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). CASAs are everyday people appointed by a judge to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children in court. For more information, click here.
- Mentoring a child in foster care. Several agencies provide mentoring service to children in foster care. Some organizations focus on teens. Others work with children of all ages. More info here.
- One of the more unique ways to get involved is to help the folks at Recycle Your Bicycle. Each year, they take donated used bikes, fix them up like new, and give them to foster families in time for the holidays. Each September, ABC15 takes part in a drive benefiting Recycle Your Bicycle. But, it's never too early to get involved with this amazing program.