UW Combined Fund Drive

May 3, 2021

May is Foster Care Awareness Month

Whatever the reason for being part of it, the foster care system holds many emotions and experiences. For children, separation from family is a loss, state agencies influence every aspect of life, and the unknown can be overwhelming. Caseworkers are often overwhelmed managing caseloads of 20[1] or more. Yet, fostering can be a fulfilling and is often a life changing experience.

With roots in indentured servitude, the established foster care system has greatly changed in the past 500 years. The movement from servitude to charity, in conjunction with state regulations, culminated into the foster care system we know today.[2]

The most recent (FY19) Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report (produced by the Children’s Bureau within the US Department of Health and Human Services) notes that nearly 424,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States.

The average age of a foster child is 8 years old and the average time spent in foster care is nearly 20 months. While the goal is reunification for the majority of cases, 122,000 children in the system are waiting to be adopted. Here in Washington, over 10,000 children are in foster case. About 20% are waiting to be adopted.[3]

Interested in fostering?

The responsibilities to provide safety, love, and care can be daunting as a foster parent. Whether you are home or work out of the house, are single, divorced, married or in a partnership, you can be a foster parent.

As a foster parent, you are an investing in a child’s future and changing your community. You protect children from potential harms, help them learn and use new skills, and make them feel good about themselves. Foster parenting requires some level of flexibility. There is no knowing when you may be asked to help or for how long; children may stay with you for days, months, or years. Regardless of the time together, both you and your foster child will be changed forever.

The decision to become a foster parent is a big decision. To make the experience easier, the government provides stipends to cover some of the needs and many nonprofits offer support groups.  To become a foster parent you will go through trainings for a license.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent including guidelines, laws and rules as well as answers to frequently asked questions, take a look at the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). DCYF is the lead agency for state-funded child and family support, focused on the well-being of children to ensure “Washington state’s children and youth grow up safe and healthy—thriving physically, emotionally and academically, nurtured by family and community.”[4] Among the many services and support provided, DCYF offers caregiver support groups and foster care resources.

As you explore or experience the foster care system, here are a couple of resources that can support you. Amara believes in the power of community – a network of people coming together to support one another through all the highs and lows. Together with community and foster families, they envision a transformation of foster care into a system that builds resilience and relationships, so all kids and families thrive. To review resources for fostering, click here.

How you can help



While fostering may not be an option for you, there are many ways to support foster kids and foster families. Here are a few great organizations to volunteer your time with.

Office Moms & Dads: Made up of a community of qualified volunteers, Office Moms & Dads partners with child welfare services to create a nurturing environment for children entering foster care. As a volunteer, you keep children occupied and safe during the transition while social workers take care of arrangements behind the scenes.

Seattle Angels: Seattle Angels is the local chapter of National Angels, a nonprofit that provides wrap around support to fostering families. There are many ways to get involved; give intentionally, build relationships, or mentor.

Fostering Family Washington: Fostering Family is a community-wide initiative led by Amara, a not-for-profit that serves children in foster care, and the families who care for them. Fostering Family’s goal is to make people more aware of the foster care experience, and inspire community action to support kids and families. Fostering Family works in partnership with non-profit organizations, businesses, and state and local agencies across the Puget Sound region. To get involved or volunteer, check out this page.


Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations actively supporting foster children:

Amara (Charity Code: 0456683): Seattle-based Amara works to ensure that every child in foster care has the love and support of a committed family as quickly as possible and for as long as each child needs.

Children’s Home Society of Washington (Charity Code: 0315336): Children’s Home Society of Washington, nationally accredited, provides 6 core services: Adoption, Family Support, Child/Family Counseling, Out-of-Home Care Foster/ residential treatment, Early Learning, and Advocacy.

Foster Care Alumni of America (Charity Code: 1479838): Foster Care Alumni of America seeks to provide education and training to , and facilitate connections among, adults who have formerly been in foster care and the general public in order to improve the foster care system and transform the lives of children and youth currently in foster care.

The Mockingbird Society (Charity Code: 0330109): The Mockingbird Societys mission is to transform foster care and end youth homelessness. Working in partnership with young people with lived experience, we change policies and perceptions standing between any child and a safe, supportive and stable home. We envision each young person, regardless of race or individual experience, reaching adulthood with an equitable opportunity to thrive.

Seattle Angels (Charity Code: 1482700): Seattle Angels walk alongside children in the foster care system, as well as their caretakers, offering consistent support through intentional giving, relationship building, mentorship. We do this by pairing community volunteers with fostering families.

Treehouse (Charity Code: 0315399): Helps foster kids learn, fulfills material needs and gives them a real childhood and hope for the future through six education and enrichment programs.

Contributed by UWCFD intern Noam Soker

[1] https://www.treehouseforkids.org/foster-care-facts/

[2] https://nfpaonline.org/page-1105741

[3]  https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/washington#info\

[4] https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/about/about-us