I have seen many posts in the various foster parent groups I'm in on Facebook about how to prepare for placements, especially when you have a wide age-range. Preparing for such an expanse of ages and sizes is overwhelming and REALLY expensive and we simply wouldn't be able to afford buying and stocking up on brand new items. So I set out to find ways to get what we needed for as little money as possible.
I wanted to share the ways I have prepared in hopes that the resources I've found can, in some way, help you or spur you on to find similar resources.
A short disclaimer: I live in a huge city. We have tons of resources available to us. BUT, I also grew up in a tiny little town and know from experience that the generosity of those people is just as astounding as the kind I've experienced here in the city. So, if you live in a rural community, do not be dismayed! I assure you, if you reach out, you will be overwhelmed with help!
I wanted to compile a list of resources for you to look in to to help start building your own personal foster care supply closet at home. Below will be a list of descriptions and links to the various online resources I've used. Some may just be general descriptions of places you could look for in your own area. And if you have any other ideas that I could add to the list, PLEASE leave a comment or message and I will look into it and add it to the list!
Foster Care Supply Resources:
- Freecycle.org- Freecycle is a website meant to help keep things out of the garbage heaps that take over so much of our land. I recently described Freecycle to someone by saying it's like your Grandma's attic. There's a LOT of junk, but if you weed through it, you will find some treasures. My most recent score from Freecycle was an entire car load of FREE baby gear including shoes, clothes and BAGS full of brand new bottles.
- Craigslist "Free" Section- On Craigslist (at least on mine), under the "For Sale" category, there is a "free" section. This is where people post items they want to get rid of for $0.00. I haven't had much luck with this section as most of it is more junk than what I would find on Freecycle, but I do know of people who have scored some pretty cool things from it. There is also a "Baby+Kid" section under the For Sale category where I know you can score some good deals for baby gear. My goal is to usually try to find free stuff and then supplement what I can for super cheap. And don't be afraid to haggle the price a little! If you find something you really like but it's out of your price range, sit on it. Keep an eye on it. If the item lasts for more than a week, ask the seller if they'd be willing to negotiate the price. Usually the seller will be willing to work with you.
- Facebook Virtual Garage Sale Sites- There are several different types of groups you can take advantage of when looking for baby & kid gear. Some examples of the groups I'm in are virtual garage sale sites, where people post pictures and descriptions of what they're selling which will include a price and pick-up location. Usually, the first one to comment "Interested" under the item has first dibs on it. If that person passes or doesn't pick up, the seller moves down the line of interested parties until the item is sold and picked up.
- Facebook Neighborhood Mommy Groups- These groups are where I've had the most luck getting free stuff. Sometimes, if I'm looking for something in particular, I'll post, "Hey Neighbors! New foster mamma here. I'm looking for..." and am usually blown away by the responses of people wanting to help.
- General Facebook Neighborhood Groups- These groups are just general groups for your neighborhood/town/city. Some don't allow people to sell things, but most allow people to do ISO (In Search Of) posts where other members can respond saying they have the item for sale or to give away.
- Mom Swaps- Swaps have become my new favorite thing! One of the Facebook mom groups I'm a part of hosts a bi-annual Baby Swap (no, not where you go to trade in your baby for a new one...), where people donate their gently used or new baby clothes/gear/toys/etc. Then the organizers sort everything and open it to the people in the group to come and gather whatever they need for their kids. The ones I attend are free. There are some groups that require a purchased ticket to attend and/or require you to donate items in order to participate.
- Friends & Family- This is by far the easiest and best way I've received what we need for our foster loves. When we started our journey of foster care, we posted on our Facebooks and were immediately inundated with offers of baby furniture, clothes, gear, toys, and other necessities. It not only blessed our socks off, but it rekindled relationships and made way for new connections to be made.
- Foster Shower- Once we were licensed, I asked a few select friends to throw us a foster shower. It was not only a celebration of this milestone, but a way for our friends, family and church to bless us. Our personal story is one of pain, hardship, loss, grief and sadness. For us to reach this point was a reason to celebrate. Not everyone is open to this idea and that is fine! Each story is different. I had always struggled with baby showers (and still do!), and was sad that I'd never have one. Then I realized that there was nothing stopping us from having a foster shower! We got to make registries and got to invite the ones we love to celebrate with us. And we were so, so blessed. Not only by the gifts we received, but by the fellowship we shared.
Those are the main resources I've utilized in my quest to prepare for our foster loves and I hope these resources can help you in preparing for your own journey! Again, if you have any other resources you think I should add to the list, send them my way!