Be the Change says this is probably by Brooke Ann Dove.

The Point

So what's the point of some of these posts of mine? Are they just hopeless downers, designed to make you weep or turn away in horror/disgust/compassion fatigue? Well, hopefully not. No, they're meant, especially in the case of child or disabled adult welfare, to make you wake up and see that there are all these people around you that you could help, in simple or maybe even slightly less simple, ways. If I could get even one person to become a GAL, or three people to go read bedtime stories to children in foster care, this blog will have been the best success I could ever envision.

Lend a Hand: Volunteer

If you're busy and don't have a lot of time, how about helping out at places like children and youth shelters, on programs that work with children in foster care or the elderly? Want to know how to connect? Check out The Hands On Network, and it's affiliated City Cares programs, nationwide. Typically with Hands On/City Cares events, you volunteer as you are able. You can attend a volunteer training and then sign up for projects when you have time. I volunteered with Hands on Miami from 1997 until 2007, as a project coordinator at the Miami Ronald McDonald House and at the Miami Bridge Shelter for youth. They were very rewarding experiences. City Cares builds houses with Habitat for Humanity, works in animals shelters, cleans beaches. There are so many ways to help.

Guardian ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocate

If you've read about Snow White and Snow Red and Keyonce and some of my other GAL kids, and wish to be able to help foster children and foster youth, if you live in the United States, you can go to and learn about how to be come a Guardian ad Litem or Court Appointed Special Advocate (the same concept but differing names in various states across the US) in your judicial district. Whether you take one case or five, you can make the difference in the life of a child by being an impartial, child-centered voice, advocating for the best interests of the child or children in a dependency case in which the parents have been charged with abuse or neglect. As I have said many times in my blog posts, sometimes the GAL is the only person that stays the same throughout a child's voyage through foster care. Foster homes, case managers, may all change again and again. Having someone who has known you for years can be invaluable for foster children. While not a replacement for family, some kids may feel that their GAL is about as close as their going to get to having a family member looking out for them, advocating for them, especially after they have aged out of care.


And for those who might be in for the long haul, learn about legal guardianship of disabled youths and adults, or even the elderly. You can read in depth about guardianship here. While some minor details may change from state to state, the concepts and duties involved in being a permanent legal guardian are pretty much the same everywhere. People who were intellectually and developmentally disabled as children will likely be so as adults. They will be children for life and need to be protected for life. They don't become safe and secure because they turn 18 and if anything, because a dependency court, and all the oversight that entails, is no longer involved in their lives, they become more vulnerable.

If you want information on various other ways to help in the world, check out the Marzie's Favorite Links tab.

Other Ways to Help

Ever imagine what it's like to age out of foster care at 18 and be told you better start looking for a part-time job only to realize when you go to interviews that you don't have the proper clothes to interview in, as you can tell by the disapproving look of everyone who you watched stare at you, while you waited to interview? Or how about if you were a battered wife, you and your kids finally got away and now, after going through weeks of therapy, you are ready to start looking for a job but the one you want to interview for means that you'll have to wear business clothes every day and you haven't had the money for a suit since forever. Enter Dress for Success. Dress for Success provides business clothes and suits for those in need. They may be gently worn or they may be the occasional "new with tags" that someone got and never wore or donated clearance items that a store needed out of inventory and wanted to get a tax donation for. What they are is a CHANCE. You can donate in cash or in clothing to Dress for Success. There are locations all over the US and in some worldwide locations as well.

Who funds Guardian ad Litem programs? Well, usually the state funds them, but let's be honest here and say at the outset that these programs are continually underfunded and have to fight tooth and nail for every dime. Who funds things like birthday funds for children in foster care? Those ballet lessons that little Jenny dreams of while Mommy breaks her heart and relapses or after her case manager tells her that she's sorry but no, she can't find a home for Jenny and her brother Johnny to live in together? That would be Voices for Children programs. Voices for Children programs are attached to local guardians ad litem programs across the US. They support the Guardian ad Litem Program in myriad ways, but especially they support children in care in the small ways that can allow a GAL who maybe wants to do something special for a child, but simply can't afford to, make it work. You can do a simple Google search of Voices for Children and append your geographic area in the US. Check it out and get involved. Wrap presents at Christmas, donate funds or toys, inquire about matching gifts with your corporate employer.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2012

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