Foster care is a system where a minor is placed in a group home or private home, with a state-certified caregiver. About 520,000 children end up in foster care each year. Most children are placed temporarily due to parental abuse or neglect.
Children Rights, an activist group claims that “40,000 infants are placed in foster care each year.” They also say “20,000 children never leave the system and remain in foster care until they “age out.”
The children are coming from all different backgrounds. Some have been through trauma, abuse, and neglect. According to ABC News “each week, nearly 60,000 children in the United States are reported as abused or neglected, with nearly 900,000 confirmed abuse victims.” However, all of them are in need of a loving home.
Despite the many efforts of bettering the lives of foster children, the nation’s foster care system is still overcrowded and rife with problems. Many of America’s child services are badly broken, and children can suffer serious harm as a result.
Families Helping Families is a nonprofit organization in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that offers unique programs and services designed to help Iowa’s foster care children and the families caring for them. They aspire to make the lives of foster care children better.
Their main goal is to meet the needs of children who have been abused or neglected to allow them to have the same chance as their peers to be healthy and productive citizens.
According to Lisa Buckman, the Executive Director of Families Helping Families, “we were founded in 2005 by a group of foster mothers looking to exchange clothes.” We began in a garage with $100.00 and a dream of making a difference.
They do year-round events such as Haircuts for Kids to support children’s confidence, holiday parties each December with games and toy drives, and provide school supplies and senior pictures. They partner with Kiwanis Club of Cedar Rapids to provide each child with a pair of shoes valued at $50.
The clothing closet is the foundation of Families Helping Families. When Children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care, they have a limited amount of clothing and basic essentials. The foster family can shop for clothing, shoes, books and quilts and other basic essentials for no cost.
Families Helping Families also provides financial assistance for extra-curricular activities and tutoring through their Spread Your Wings program so that children can experience and normal and fulfilling childhood while they’re in foster care.
Buckman tells, “we do things that will help them excel and fit in because of the stigma attached to foster care. We provide scholarships for extracurricular activities to give them a sense of self-worth, normality, and security at a time where things may seem uncertain”
To help assist Families Helping Families in their mission, you can volunteer at their events or donate to them and their facility. Visit their website for Families Helping Families to fill out a volunteer form. You must be 12 years or older to volunteer and children have to be accompanied by a parent or adult. They also require a small background check.
Although the foster care system is currently undergoing critical national issue, there is hope too. Across the country, there are heroes, individuals and institutions, such as Families Helping Families that offer services and ideas. There are dozens of organizations that suggest innovative solutions and practical things that all us can do to help the children who need it most.
Since April of 1998 drastic changes have been made to ensure the safety and quality of the lives of foster care children in Iowa. They have sought out training for social workers, administrators, and judges. Foster parents now undergo training and receive higher payments to care for the children, and they work to make family interventions therapeutic rather than punitive.
Families Helping Families is a superior organization that wishes to be the change for foster children and their families here in Iowa. With Families Helping Families and citizens of Iowa coming together to welcome foster kids with open hearts into our schools, businesses and even our homes; we can become the glimpse of hope in a deserving child’s life.