Although the best way to help foster children is by becoming a foster parent, there are other ways to help:
- Volunteer with MFCA projects
- Volunteer as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
- Be a support person for a local foster family
- Become a tutor
- Host a Muslim foster child for iftar or Eid
- Provide employment opportunities for older foster children
- Donate to MFCA and other local organizations that support foster children and their families
Volunteer with MFCA projects
MFCA regularly organizes programs and events to serve local foster children, both domestic and refugee. These include welcome packages for new foster children, Ramadan and Eid gifts, clothing drives, and support groups.
Volunteer as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
A CASA (court-appointed special advocate) is a screened and trained volunteer appointed by a judge from the juvenile court to gather information, write reports, and make recommendations to the court that are in the best interest of the children. A CASA volunteer meets regularly with the children assigned to him or her and makes sure they don’t get lost or neglected in an overburdened foster care system. Usually assigned to one child or sibling group, a CASA commits to watching over a case until it is closed. For many foster children, a CASA may be the only consistent and dependable adult presence in their life.
CASA volunteers can expect to spend 10-15 hours a month gathering information and meeting with the child, lawyers, social workers, and teachers. The CASA prepares a formal report for the judge at each court hearing and presents recommendations. To become a CASA, volunteers must complete application forms, background checks, and an interview. The training includes 20 hours of instruction and courtroom observation, followed by a formal swearing-in.
CASAs are also known as guardian ad litem in some jurisdictions. To find out more about the CASA program and to locate a program in your vicinity, visit the national CASA website.
Be a Support Person for a local foster family
A foster family has a mountain of newly acquired responsibilities, including transporting child/ren to parental visits, mental health and doctor appointments, financial support, and balancing fostering with the demands of family and work. Very few foster parents can do all of this alone; support people play an important role in the success of the foster placement.
In order to be licensed, foster parents must list support people who are willing to undergo background checks and provide back-up care and help. A support person can help with transportation, babysitting, and other logistics. Moreover, he or she can be an important source of moral support for both the foster parent and the foster child. The best foster families have a network of individuals supporting them and helping them provide the highest level of care for the foster child.
Even if you cannot be officially listed as a support person on a foster parent’s license, there are many ways to provide vital support for a foster family in your community. Cooking fresh meals, assisting with babysitting or transportation, helping with household chores, or offering financial support to cover the cost of day-care or private Islamic school (which will always exceed the monthly stipend) are a few ways to make fostering sustainable in the Muslim community.
Become a tutor
Refugee children are in need of tutoring in English language and require extra assistance to orient themselves to a completely new system of schooling. Domestic foster children are often behind in school, having lacked the support and stability necessary for academic success. Many foster children have learning disabilities and/or anxiety when it comes to performing in school. These challenges are often too much for foster parents to handle on their own.
Volunteer tutors can be of great service to foster children by offering academic assistance and mentorship. When children are allowed to succeed in school, it starts a cycle of success that builds confidence and reinforces good habits. MFCA connects volunteer tutors with local foster families in need of their services. If you are interested in becoming a tutor, fill out the volunteer contact form.
Host a Muslim foster child on Ramadan or Eid
Not every Muslim child is placed with a Muslim foster family. You can help connect Muslim foster children with their community by inviting them to your home for iftar in Ramadan or for an Eid celebration. It is reassuring for a Muslim foster child to find people who celebrate the same holidays as they do, speak the same language, and engage in the same practices. Opening your home to a Muslim foster child allows them to feel that there is a community of people who care for them and are willing to support them. Including non-Muslim foster parents in your invitation can help them better understand the needs and practices of Muslims. If you are interested in hosting a Muslim foster child for Ramadan or Eid, contact us.
Provide employment opportunities for foster children
Older foster children, specifically children who are in semi-independent living, often are searching for employment opportunities. Employment helps them learn accountability, life skills, and be exposed to potential career paths. If you are able to offer employment opportunities for foster children, please contact MFCA.