After we announced to our friends and family that we were starting the process of opening our home as foster parents, we had several people ask how they could help. In the beginning, it’s hard to know what you might need – you have just started your classes and you probably don’t know what ages you might have in your home. What do you even start?!
Before I get to my list, let me just get this out of the way: I never expected anyone’s help. This was something our family decided to do, with no intention of relying on friends and family to purchase anything for us. So while you may have strong feelings about everyone’s “responsibility” to help kids in foster care, your friends and family didn’t sign up for this, you did.
But if you have people in your life who want to help and really want direction about what you need, you might consider starting a Wish List. Some people will want to give in particular ways – maybe they make blankets and want to bless your kiddos with a blanket of their own (like my friend Angela and her sons!), or maybe they want to bring you dinner (thank you Ashlie and Ciara!). Let them! 🙂 However, some people will want you to tell them what you can use. This is where a Wish List can be really helpful.
We made a Wish List on Amazon.com, because that’s how so many people shop. And we had non-locals who sent items – friends I hadn’t seen since high school and college, a woman who I’ve never met in person! Amazing people!! So an online wish list was great for us. You can add items from Amazon.com as well as “universal items” that they could purchase anywhere.
Our Amazon Wish List was for our particular household, where we would be taking in kids in the approximate age range of 4-11. So here we go:
- Lice treatment kits (Lice happens, y’all. Prepare yourself now.)
- Good quality lice combs (We like the Fairy Tales Terminator Comb)
- Lice Freee spray [Because let’s just go ahead and get all the lice stuff done at the top of the list]
- Evenflo Big Kid booster seat (though we knew if we got younger kids in a 5 point harness we would need to get something different). We like these because they are lightweight for switching cars.
- USB drives, on which we will put photos and scans of artwork, schoolwork, and photos of their stay to send with their parents
- A Tracfone and Tracfone minutes, which is what we use for birth parent phone calls. We do NOT use it for anything other than parent calls, so we turn it on 5 minutes before a scheduled call and turn it off immediately afterward. For us, it has worked really well to separate those calls from the rest of our week. There’s no fear that they will call at a time we aren’t expecting it, and we have the only access.
- Boxes with lids, like these Sterilite boxes. We had one in a dresser drawer when they arrived so that they could store food in their room if they wanted/needed. They haven’t used it for that, however. They use if for their hair things. Any way it goes, boxes with lids are a great thing. They are inexpensive and can be decorated and go home with the child if you wish.
- Locking medicine cabinet, like this one by Helix. A locked container or cabinet was required for our home study, though it doesn’t have to be one specifically designed for medications [at least in our state]. I like this one because of the way it opens. I don’t store everything in this one, because it’s pretty small. I have another large container that is locked and stored elsewhere.
- Small suitcases and duffel bags. No child deserves to carry their belongings in a trash bag. Perhaps you work with an organization who has suitcases on hand for kids, but perhaps not. When our friend Tracy bought some for us, I was happy to know that kids would never leave our home with their possessions in a Hefty bag.
- Books about foster care (see below for affiliate links to the ones on our list!)
- Gift cards for children’s clothing
In addition to the things listed here, we had great friends who brought over hand me downs and immediately dropped everything to get essentials for our girls’ first night in our home. If you are going to have older or younger kids, your needs will of course vary. You might need bottles and formula for a baby or toddler, toys for a preschooler, a desk for a middle schooler, etc. Think through your needs and ask around. It’s okay to not have everything, but it’s great to be prepared!
What else do you think belongs on a foster care wish list? Did you make a wish list when you opened your home?
Post contains affiliate links (below)