Here's how to help foster families around the country

Even if you can't foster a child yourself, there are simple ways to help.

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By Kerry Breen

West Virginia has been ravaged by the opioid crisis and seen a 71% increase in children in state care -- but that increase in children hasn't been matched by an increase in licensed foster families.

Some families, like Louisa and Nikki Snuffer and Monica and Robert Kinder, have adopted multiple children through the foster care system, but experts and caretakers in West Virginia are concerned that it's still not enough. All around the country, foster care systems are similarly stressed.

When NBC News featured the Snuffer and Kinder families as well as several West Virginia non-profits in a piece about the need for more foster parents, the non-profits profiled were inundated with donations and offers of help. TODAY compiled a list of resources that readers can use to help foster families, or even take the first steps towards becoming foster parents themselves.

Resources for becoming a foster family

  1. For information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, go to the Adopt US Kids main site. The organization also has specific, state-by-state information available.
  2. The Adopt US Kids site also has basic information about the first steps to getting approved as a foster family.
  3. To adopt or foster in West Virginia, reach out to Mission West Virginia to request information.
  4. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, managed by the Children's Bureau, the Administration for Children and Families, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides plenty of information about how to become a foster parent.
  5. The National Foster Parent Association is a non-profit organization that works to provide help, support, and information to those who are hoping to become foster parents and those who are already fostering.

Resources to help foster families

  1. The Foster Coalition has assembled a list of "foster closets": spaces where people can donate clothing, toys, furniture, baby accessories and more. Many states have these resources, but this list can be a good starting point.
  2. For inspiration on other ways to help, Mission West Virginia has compiled a list of what help foster families might need.
  3. This list from KVC Health Services gives some simple tasks that people can do, like mentoring teens in foster care or assembling welcome boxes for those entering a foster family.
  4. Support organizations like Mission West Virginia, Together We Rise, or your own state organization with fundraisers or donated supplies.
  5. The Children's Home Society of West Virginia has their own list of things people can do to help. Try supporting a foster family by providing babysitting or helping with errands, or assist with recruitment activities and events.

Resources to help the Kinder and Snuffer families