Disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links! That means if you purchase a gift through our link, we’ll get a small, small commission that comes at no additional cost to you. We’re then rolling several months of Amazon earnings (plus other family funds) into buying more gifts/physical supplies for foster families and kids. Read on to find out more!
If you’ve been a follower of Haute Happenings for any time at all, you may have noticed that foster care is near and dear to our hearts.
We became a licensed foster familyin 2015 (when our biological daughters were 2 and 4), and this year we’re celebrating a beautiful addition to our forever family. Our third daughter officially became a Brown at the end of October!
We’re cherishing this season and feeling thankful that our daughter has the permanence and stability that every child deserves.
Our daughter may be out of the system, but there are still hundreds of other children in our region who are wards of the state of Indiana. Children are in limbo as their parents and family members work to get well and to provide their children with a safe, stable home.
This year, we’re celebrating our daughter’s adoption by asking you to get involved. We want to draw attention to the need for advocacy for foster children and the need for more foster parents.
Part of this plan is to rally our network to gift foster children with special holiday presents and birthday gifts!
Gifts are tangible ways to show children in DCS care that they are valued members of our community. We’re sending these token gifts to children to show that we care.
While you’re at it, you may also want to use the experience as a teaching opportunity for your own family. As we purchase gifts this year, we’re speaking with our own girls about the blessings of health and family and reminding them that we believe it’s always important to look out for those who might be lonely, vulnerable, or hurting.
To encourage others to get involved, we’ve made the gift giving process super simple. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can ship a gift (in the range of $10-$20) straight to a local collection point (the Vigo County CASA office) from Amazon!
Gifts will be collected by the CASA volunteers and given to the kids they support at holidays, birthdays, or when there is a need.
For those of you who like to shop off-line, we have options! This season, we’re partnering with local radio stations towards the mutual goal of providing gifts for local children in foster care. The radio station program is called “300 Holiday Wishes,” and the radio stations are providing several physical drop off locations. Check it out HERE!
The gifts collected by the radio stations will be delivered by DCS to foster children at the DCS holiday party.
While gifts are wonderful, everyone rallying for this cause wants this experience to draw your attention to deeper needs.
Consider Becoming a Foster Parent
If you’ve ever felt a stir to serve vulnerable families, I encourage you to consider foster care. Our local DCS office helped us to write a post about the steps it takes to become a foster parent in Indiana!
Learn How to Become a Child Advocate
But not everyone is meant to be a foster parent. One vital way to help foster kids is through advocacy. In Terre Haute, there are special volunteers (called “CASAs”) who advocate for kids in foster care.
The “Court Appointed Special Advocates” represent abused and neglected children within the juvenile court system. Their job is to look out for the interests of the child. In essence, a CASA is the eyes and ears for the judge. They help him/her make the most informed decisions about the wishes and welfare of these children. A CASA communicates with biological parents, teachers, doctors, caseworkers, foster parents, and counselors to find out how the child is doing and to determine what is in the child’s best interest. A CASA attends court hearings and submits written reports and recommendations to the judge. An invested, faithful, diligent CASA could be the most important voice in determining whether a child is reunified with biological family, stays in DCS care, or is adopted.
To help illustrate the vital role that a CASA plays in foster care, I polled some of my foster parent friends and asked them to describe their best CASA experiences.
(For privacy, safety, and ethical reasons, we’ve opted not to share pictures or last names even from the families whose cases have closed thanks to reunification or adoption.)
“I looooove their CASA. She always went above and beyond, and we still keep in contact. She did home visits on Sundays, and read through hours and hours of medical records, and did real detective work to ensure our kids were safe!”
“Their CASA was wonderful. She absolutely went above and beyond to advocate for these kiddos. I could call her with any issues and she was never too busy to hear my concerns and act upon them. She’s a shining example of what the CASA program should be. She’s also never afraid to make some waves in order to advocate for children on her caseload.”
“We had a CASA that I still keep in contact with after 11 years! Her name is Sue, and she was a fabulous CASA that went above and beyond. We are forever grateful for her service as a CASA.”
“Sharen was the CASA for our adopted daughter. She came to our case shortly before the adoption, but took the time to thoroughly review our daughter’s case and get to know our family. We are thankful that she is a part of our adoption story. She is a wonderful voice for kids in care.”
You can find out more about the Vigo County CASA program via the CASA website or facebook page. The next training session begins in January 2018!
Donated gifts will then be delivered by CASAs to foster children this holiday season.