5 Tools to Help Everyday People Understand Foster Care

May is National Foster Care Month. What better time to raise awareness of the fact that there are more than 400,000 young people currently in foster care in the U.S.—nearly 48,000 of whom are here in Texas?

If you’re a CASA volunteer or otherwise already involved in the child welfare world, chances are you have a pretty good understanding of the foster care system. But there are plenty of people in your family, friend group, office and community who might not know what foster care really is, much less the issues children and families tangled up in the system can face, or how they can help.

We’ve compiled some resources to help you change that.

For the Kiddo: Sesame Street in Communities’ Foster Care Resources

Karli is a muppet who’s in foster care living with her “for-now parents,” Dalia and Clem. By introducing young children to Karli and her family, you’re not only helping to normalize the concept of foster care for them early on, but you’re showing them wonderful examples of how to process and talk through complicated issues and feelings.

For the Teen: FosterClub’s Real Stories

Sometimes the best way to reach teens is through—you guessed it—other teens! FosterClub’s blog features youth and young adults of all races, genders, sexual orientations and abilities speaking out about their experience in the foster care system. Any teen is bound to find at least one story that resonates with them.

For the Reader: Emily’s Story: A Year in the Life of a Child in Foster Care

Based on our 2017 short film, Emily’s Story is a 12-part, long-form article that dives into the experiences of a young girl who is removed from her home and placed in foster care. The article puts the reader in the shoes of both Emily and her CASA volunteer Maria—and contextualizes their narratives with in-depth explainer sections. The story, while fictional, is informed by actual events and helps the reader understand the kinds of real-life situations that many children in the Texas foster care system face.

For the Learner: Online Core Advocacy Skills Training (OCAST)

Do you have a friend or family member who loves a good deep dive? Texas CASA created an interactive e-learning course, Online Core Advocacy Skills Training (OCAST), which walks people through everything that happens when a child comes to the attention of CPS. While the primary audience is CASA volunteers, anyone can take the course and learn!

For the Spiritual: Clergy, CASA & Community

Every major religion shares common tenets expressed in different words, and in every religion, prayers, stories and metaphors express the universal calling: To lead a virtuous life, we must value and care for all people, including those less fortunate than ourselves. Do you know someone who is deeply involved with their church, synagogue, temple or other faith-based congregation? Show them this video, and start a conversation about how their congregation can get involved in supporting children and families in foster care.