20 Ways to Support Foster and Adoptive Families


Have you ever considered ways you can support foster and adoptive families? In late 2009, I was a newly licensed foster parent. Truthfully, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Over the last decade, the journey has had many twists and turns. My journey has been emotional, wondrous, and life changing. My journey has also been difficult.

Immediately, I realized that while there are lots of organizations that support children in foster care, very few that actually support the family providing the care. 

First, I attended some local support groups. Without family nearby, I hoped to find peer support and resources. Next, I discovered that the best resources were much more grassroots and right under my nose. In the end, my biggest cheerleaders were neighbors, other moms, and in some cases anonymous “angels” in my community.

Let me explain. Lots of wonderful people would ask how they could help or if my family “needed anything”. Initially I would decline offers of support. Funny thing is, I’m not really sure why.

Ultimately, I guarantee there are foster families in your community that could use a hand.

how to support foster families on the seacoastIn case you want to help but aren’t sure how, I have lots of suggestions:

How to Support Foster and Adoptive Families

  1. Meals: Make a little extra to bring to a family. Freezer meals are awesome, too!
  2. Clothes: Ask for clothing sizes! Hand-me downs, a package of socks, or even bedding is welcome!
  3. Got wipes? Wipes, diapers and formula are the trifecta of fabulous if someone is fostering an infant.
  4. Babysit: No explanation needed. Bonus if you free at the “last minute”.
  5. Pizza: Ordering a pizza for a foster family is much like an actual miracle. So much so that you’ll here a singing cherub in your ears upon delivery time. True story.
  6. Backpack Drive: New back packs are always in demand at any local DCYF office so contact your local DCYF (here’s NH, ME and MA) office and get to it!
  7. Lawn care: Is your neighbor a foster parent? After you mow your yard, do theirs too.
  8. Clean their house: Offer to help with playroom organization and deep cleaning tasks. If cleanliness is next to godliness, my playroom is absolutely the portal to hell.
  9. Paper goods: The gift of paper plates is unparalleled to a foster family. The super cheap white plates are fine. You know the kind.
  10. Laundry: Offer to wash bedding or clothing. A foster parent can just leave laundry on the porch, and you can return it to the same location.
  11. Car Care: if anyone offered to help me vacuum the ocean of goldfish crackers out of my minivan I would be speechless!
  12. Gift cards: Even $5 to a coffee shop is exceptionally thoughtful. This is especially true when you’ve been up all night with a new placement.
  13. First Aid Supplies: Offering a box of band-aids or a box of Kleenex is inexpensive and practical.
  14. Emergency Candy Stash: Every foster parent has one. Refill it!
  15. Use Your Voice: Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and give foster children a voice in court.
  16. Advocate for Education: Become an educational surrogate to help a child access educational resources
  17. Don’t Judge: Trauma in children can manifest in many ways. Be patient with families.
  18. Transport: Offer to car pool and pick/up or drop/off a child for an activity.
  19. Haircut: Are you are a hair dresser? Make a house call and give a couple haircuts. Someone in my house ALWAYS needs a haircut.
  20. Childproofing: Been in the toddler trenches? Offer to help childproof a newly licensed home.

As you can see, there are so many ways to help! Pick just one or go bananas. 

So many wonderful people in my community want to support foster and adoptive families. I’ve even come home to find someone has left us a bicycle, or a selection of new toothbrushes. A few fellow mothers from our children’s school have offered us outgrown clothing and art supplies. In addition, toys are always welcome. Also, another suggestion is outgrown winter jackets and boots.

As much as I searched, there really are no foster parenting “hacks”. Every placement is different. Everything is hard. So many children in care come from a background of trauma. Foster parents accept that parenting in the wake of struggle, begins to define their life. Each day foster caregivers across the state work to ensure the safety of children everywhere, including your own neighborhood.

Support from peers and the community is so important.