May is National Foster Care Month in the US.
This month is a great time to acknowledge the foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. It's also a good time to find out how YOU can help.
We want to start by sharing some statistics with you we got from Austin Angels's website, Foster Care Community in Texas:
• Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.
• Young women in foster care are more than 2x as likely as their peers (not in foster care) to become pregnant by age 19.
• Only about 50% of those who age out of care will obtain a high school diploma.
• 97% of children in foster care will not graduate from college, despite the fact that as wards of the state, they receive a full-ride to any state school of their choice.
There are many ways you can participate, donate and help supporting this cause and increasing the awareness on how many children are in foster care. Approximately 415,000 youth were in foster care in the US only on September 30, 2014, and more than 250,000 of them were school-age (1). A government report from November 2017 says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents. The report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400 (2).
You can for example help by donating money or products to local non-profits (it's easy to search for your closest non-profit by search on search engines) or you can check out some of these great causes:
If you are in the position and you are interested in becoming a foster parent it's a great first step to read about the requirements and steps you then need to follow. You can for example find information about that on Transitions Children's Services website.
Children in foster care are diagnosed with PTSD at approximately twice the rate of U.S. war veterans (3). Most of foster children have experienced multiple stressors (e.g. parental substance abuse, parental imprisonment, and parental mental health problems) prior to entering out-of-home care (4) and some are born with addiction and go straight into foster care. Because of these reasons, and so many more, many adopted and foster children have a difficult time falling and staying asleep (5).
Lulla has shown to help foster children by giving them added comfort and security, helping them falling sleep faster and sleeping better throughout the night. All of the above can be huge problems for adopted and foster children and they often fear going to sleep.
RoRo focuses on certain groups when it comes to donating dolls. When deciding which groups to focus on RoRo evaluated how the doll was helping and whom it was helping the most. Also, it is taken into consideration why the doll was created from the beginning and how it was developed.
One of the groups RoRo focuses on donating to throughout the year, and especially during May, are adoptive and foster children. We've donated to both individual foster families and to bigger non-profits in the last years. This month we decided to support Threads of Change by donating 27 dolls as well as giving total of 5 dolls to individual families and the non-profit Forever Homes.
We believe it's important to get as much feed-back as possible from our users in order to improve as well as analyzing how the doll is helping and which groups are benefitting the most from using the doll. This enables us to decide how we can help in the best possible way, as well as helping us developing the product further for you. We particularly want to share with you two reviews we've received. The first one comes from a foster parent who received 3 dolls in March for her foster children. At the moment these great foster parents have 6 foster children!
We also received a review very recently from a foster parent receiving 2 dolls in the beginning of May, as well as 2 dolls for a foster/adopt moms retreat she's helping planning.
I found these little dolls online by accident. As I read about them and how they mimic a caregiver and help kids sleep better, my mind immediately went to my little foster sons. They are often anxious and have trouble sleeping. I thought these would be the perfect thing for little ones in #fostercare ...a little companion when they are feeling sad. Night times are often scary for them.
I contacted Lulla doll and they donated a doll for my two little ones to try out! The boys have fallen in love with them. I often find them snuggled up with an arm around their little doll, and my 4 yr old is sleeping much better. He never goes to sleep without his doll!
Thank you so much for helping my little ones to sleep better! I want to find a way to get these little dolls into the hands of more kids when they come into foster care. They are the perfect night time friend for these sweet kiddos.
(1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS report. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport22.pdf
(2) Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/media/press/2017/number-of-children-in-foster-care-continues-to-increase
(3) Pecora, P. J., et al. (2005). Improving family foster care: Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study. Retrieved from http://www.casey.org/northwest-alumni-study/
(4) Sleep Disruption in Young Foster Children. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864401/
Eva Dögg, yoga instructor, tells us about Ujjayi breath in this blog and teaches us the Ujjayi breath (ocean breath) Lulla doll plays. The blog also includes a longer session with grounding, breathing and meditation that kids can participate in.