National Angels is a foster care support organization with chapters in multiple locations around the country, including three in Washington. Their motto is “Not everyone is called to foster, and not everyone is called to adopt, but anyone can make a difference in a child’s life.” Through two programs, they organize volunteers to become mentors and supporters for youth in foster care, and the foster families they live with.
Love Box volunteers seek to build relationships with their family by spending quality time with the whole family: playing games, sharing a meal, and being intentional. They can also create and deliver personal care packages based on current practical needs. The whole family is supported including the bio children. When our families are matched with committed volunteers who show up monthly, parents feel supported and children gain a greater sense of normalcy, relational permanency, and self confidence.
If a foster child moves homes, the volunteers try to follow them and connect with their new foster family – but often the move is too far away for that to be reasonable. Each chapter has paid caseworkers who do the matching between families and volunteers – interviews, background checks, training, and compatible people/locations. Foster families can self refer, or be referred by a friend/social worker/etc. Finding volunteers to match with them takes a varying amount of time depending on location and any specific needs.
There are about 50 families matched with Love Box groups currently in Seattle, 10-15 more usually in process at any moment.
Their boundaries are roughly King/Snohomish county – they haven’t expanded far into Pierce County because they just haven’t been able to support it. They have fewer volunteers in South Seattle and South King County, and it has been difficult to find matches in some areas, e.g. for a family in East King County recently.
The Dare to Dream program (for youth ages 15-22) and Dare to Dream Jr. program (for youth ages 11-14). Mentors sign up to provide one-on-one support to a youth in care, for at least one year. Research shows that having at least one stable, caring, and supportive adult is a significant factor in a child’s ability to develop resilience and physically recover from the effects of trauma (and more is better). Mentors are advocates, guides, role models, valued friends, and available resources who guide youth in their accomplishment of developmental milestones through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship.
A volunteer’s main role is to be a consistent adult showing up for the whole family. What children and families most need are healthy, consistent adults to fill in the gaps. Angels’ goal is to wrap community around foster care and positively change outcomes.
Volunteers can sign up as a group, such as a family, office or church group; in theory you could do it as an individual but there is a financial commitment which can be easier spread among a group. The largest currently is 13 people! For a larger group, 1 or 2 people are identified as the liaisons with the foster family, so as not to overwhelm them. Volunteering as either a mentor or a Love Box provider requires background checks and a commitment of at least one year, because forming stable reliable relationships is an important part of the support.
How do I sign up as a family needing support?
We serve the foster ‘community’. That includes (but is not limited to) kinship, guardianships, 3rd party custody cases, and children recently adopted from foster care. Foster care is extremely fluid and our heart is to serve families well. We encourage each family in the foster community to fill out a referral so we can look at them individually and know how best we can serve.
If you don’t have a current foster placement but have an open bed or a foster license, we would love to see if we can match you. The reality is that often families without a current placement will get one at any moment and we want to be ready when you do. Families should fill out an application so we can start to learn more about them and see how we can walk alongside them in the foster journey, no matter where they are in this current season.
We trust that you are who you say you are – no paperwork needed. We will absolutely want to connect with the child’s caseworker at DCYF and through their child placement agency (if applicable). This becomes really important if children are moved while in foster care and we need to stay connected. Our heart is to provide consistency for kids during return home or when they are moved to a placement.
How do I sign up as a volunteer?
Each chapter has a link to Get Involved in their website menu. Fill in the volunteer application there and someone will respond to you.
Feeling inspired? Don’t live near one of these three chapters? The National Angels aim to have a chapter in every city!
Founded in Austin, 2013