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FOSTER WAYS AND SMALLER WAYS

Learn the ways you can help kids in Butler County

There are lots of ways to Help SToPP it!  A critical shortage of foster parents is one of the biggest challenges facing our community.  Many children are in need of a safe harbor while their family builds a stronger foundation to which they can return safely.   Other children are in need of mentorship and guidance from a stable and caring adult community member.   Please consider clicking around the resources and community partners listed below to learn about different ways you can Help SToPP it!

FOSTER WAYS

Foster parenting is awesome, but awesome doesn't always mean easy.  It takes a wonderfully special kind of person to commit to being a foster parent.  Luckily, we know that Butler County is full of wonderfully special people!


In Butler County, there are about 100 kids in out-of-home placement at any given time.  Some of these kids stay with a family member, but for others the only option is foster care.  When foster care is necessary, the goal is always to keep the child as close to his/her community as possible.  However, a lack of foster families in our county means that children are sometimes placed with families far outside of the community they know.  And when a kid is in school, this can be especially difficult for them, either having to switch schools or having to be transported long distances every day in order to have the consistency of staying in their own school.


There are not many requirements to becoming a foster family:

  • Be a couple or single adult over the age of 21
  • Have a stable housing situation (you can either rent or own your residence) that provides enough room for your foster child to grow
  • Demonstrate positive parenting skills that include patience, stability, maturity and love of children
  • Knowledge of child development is helpful, but not required
  • Willingness to work with foster care staff towards achieving identified goals for your foster child
  • A sense of humor and a lot of love! 


If you have a place in your home and a place in your heart for a kid in need of foster care, take the first step by contacting one of the organizations serving Butler County below.

SMALLER WAYS

Not foster parenting is also awesome.  There are lots of other ways that you can Help SToPP it! and every way has the potential of leaving a lasting positive impact on a child in our community.  Here are some ideas...

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Smaller Way Organizations

1. Become  a Mentor

A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors.  There are many ways to become a mentor to a child in the community, but two great organizations that can provide you with this opportunity include the Butler County Family YMCA and Connecting2Tomorrow.


The Butler County Family YMCA provides a group mentoring program called Reach & Rise® which helps empower youth ages 8-15 in overcoming challenges that are prevalent in today’s society such as low self-esteem, poor academic progress, peer difficulties and/or poor decision making skills.


Connecting2Tomorrow,Inc is a volunteer-led non-profit organization focused on providing teens and young adults with the fundamental life and leadership skills that will change their outlook, and enable them to be successful and responsible members of our community.      


2. Provide Respite Care

Respite care is basically any time a child in foster care is with someone other than the foster parent, birth parent, or caseworker. Because all children in care must be under the supervision of an adult who has been cleared by the state, foster parents can’t call a neighbor or their 17-year-old niece to watch the kids, even in an emergency.  Respite care can be planned in advance or urgent and can last from a few minutes to a few weeks.  You decide what type of respite you would be willing to provide and then contact one of the foster care organizations above to get the process started. 


3. Support a Foster Family

Foster families need all the support they can get. Foster parenting is much more than loving on the kids (that’s the easy part). Often, it is the day-to-day hardships and complexities of working with a team of people within a government entity that is the biggest challenge.  A community supporting a foster family can lessen the burden. If you know a foster family, reach out and ask what you can do to help.  Offer to do a particular task that you could do weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  Just some thoughts...mow the lawn, provide a meal or two, fold the laundry, help the kiddos with homework once or twice a week.  Committing to helping a foster family for even an hour a week can be the difference in a parent barely hanging on and finding the balance they need to be their best selves for the children they have committed to care for. 


4. Donate and Volunteer

Most children in foster care arrive at their first placement with little to nothing in their possession. Most foster parents spend more than the state provides, buying what the children need out-of-pocket. Child welfare agencies try to help by collecting the most needed items, such as clothing, suitcases, duffle bags, back-to-school supplies, and Christmas gifts. Whether you can give gently used items or a gift of cash, donations to a local agency are guaranteed to be put to good use.


Donations are accepted by any of the Foster Care Organizations listed above.  There are additional organizations that support foster families in Western PA, such as Blessings Foster Care Ministry, Inc. and the Foster Love Project.  Each of these organizations depends on the generosity of the community for donations and volunteers and could use anything you can provide.