Foster parent discounts are available. There’s even free stuff for foster parents. To show support and appreciation for foster parents, some organizations provide material, educational, financial, and other types of aid and discounts to foster parents and their children. The national organization iFoster has members in every state and offers resources for foster families. State organizations vary in offerings and support programs. If you don’t see one listed below for your state, try contacting your state’s department of child and family services.
Being a parent is tough work. And foster parents may have an even tougher road, as many children within the foster care system have emotional or mental health issues due to neglect or abuse. In order to give these children a better life, foster parents offer their time, their homes, their love, and their resources. Nonprofit organizations that recognize the many efforts of foster parents offer free clothing and school supplies, as well as tutoring services and grants for summer camps and music lessons. Some charities have even teamed up with local businesses to supply discount cards that can be used at participating locations.
Discounts and Services for Foster Parents
Few businesses promote discounts to foster parents unless they have partnered with a nonprofit organization. These organizations team up with local businesses and retailers to provide discounts and services to foster parents. Through a nonprofit, you can often find discounts on local attractions like museums, water parks, and zoos; receive aid for medical, dental, and vision-related expenses; gain access to free clothing, toys, and other necessities; find free tutoring programs for your foster child; and sometimes you can even receive grants to pay for big-ticket items like laptops or bicycles.
Before we get into state-specific organizations that offer discounts to foster parents, let’s talk about a national organization called iFoster. iFoster is headquartered in California and has members in all 50 states. Its goal is to help foster parents and children alike. You must become a member to access its resources, but membership is free.
- An online resource portal with hundreds of free or deeply discounted resources
- An online transition-age youth assistant and digital locker
- A jobs program that trains and supports transition-age youth (age 16 to 24) to earn a competitive, living wage
Many state organizations offer financial support and can provide foster parents with free children’s clothing, shoes, toys, school supplies, and more. Below, we’ve listed organizations that offer some sort of financial respite, whether that’s free clothing or financial aid for medical bills. If there’s nothing listed for your state, reach out to local nonprofit organizations and charities to learn what aid may be available. You can also check out your state’s department of family and child services.
- Facing Foster Care in Alaska focuses on current and former foster-care children between the ages of 15 and 24. The organization raises money for new laptops and collects gently used laptops to be distributed to young people for educational purposes.
- Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation provides foster kids opportunities to attend events, extracurricular activities, school field trips, and more. It also offers medical aid and helps young adults afford laptops and other essentials that may help them in college or a career. The group also publishes a directory of organizations that aid foster families.
- The Colorado State Foster Parent Association offers resources to caregivers and prospective caregivers, including affordable or free training and education. It has also teamed up with YMCAs across the state to provide 50% off family and youth YMCA memberships. A CSFPA membership costs $35 per year.
- The Connecticut Alliance of Foster & Adoptive Families aids foster parents through support groups, a “buddy” system, a 24-hour helpline, and grants. Foster parents can apply for grants to help pay for summer camp, music lessons, dance lessons, and other activities. It also hosts events like “Avenue of Dreams,” which provides foster teens with free prom dresses, shoes, makeup, and accessories.
- The Foster Care Support Foundation provides clothing, school supplies, toys, and infant care items to foster families in need. It also runs events and programs for teens who are in need of role models.
- Family Programs Hawaii has a long list of resources for foster parents to take advantage of. These include different types of financial aid, free furniture and clothing, and free tutoring services.
- Families Helping Families of Iowa provides clothing, haircuts (twice a year), school supplies, senior pictures, and new shoes (once per year) to foster children. It also offers tutoring scholarships.
- The Adoptive & Foster Families of Maine provides education, training, guidance, and other resources to foster kids. With the help of local businesses, it has created a discount card program for adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers.
- The New Foster Care provides a resource page with information about financial aid, free clothing and household items, support groups, and more.
- Casa Cares Minnesota provides grants for items like bikes, prom attire, senior pictures, and summer camp fees for foster children.
- Ambassadors for Children provides resources such as clothing, coats, eyeglasses, tutoring services, and more to children in need. It helps children who are at risk of entering foster care, as well as those who are in foster care or have returned home after foster care.
- Cherish Kids provides resources such as informational and financial support to caregivers.
- The Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association offers support groups and education for foster parents. It also provides Kits for Kids that are filled with school supplies, toys, and clothing. Scholarships are also available for foster kids who would like to go to college.
- Foster and Adoptive Family Services has a few scholarships and grants available for children in foster care. Some scholarships are for education-related expenses, while others are meant to give children an enriching experience, such as a week at a summer camp.
- New Mexico Friends of Foster Children awards scholarships and grant money to children who have been in the foster care system for more than six months. These funds are meant to cover educational expenses after high school.
- The Anna’s House Foundation provides clothing, diapers, formula, car seats, cribs, mattresses, linens, toys, and more to foster families.
- Foster Closet supplies foster families with free items, such as clothing, shoes, strollers, and more. Most of the items are donated, so its inventory is always changing. Foster parents are allowed to bring children once a month to fill up a bag.
- Foster Forward offers leadership and life skills programs designed to help children and teens be successful. It also has training and informational programs for caregivers. A clothing bank supplies needed items — free of cost — to foster children.
- East River Foster Parent Network accepts requests for financial assistance and items to help foster parents in supporting a child’s physical, emotional, or social growth during long-term foster care.
- Catholic Charities of Tennessee supplies basic items, such as food, clothing, diapers, and other infant-care items. It may also be able to offer financial aid to those in need.
- Utah Foster Care has a Wishing Well Fund that can be used to pay for different types of lessons (music, dance, karate, etc.), prom attire, sporting equipment, yearbooks, school rings, contact lenses, and even vacations. Its also offers training classes for current and prospective foster parents.
- Vermont Parks Forever is a charity dedicated to making state parks accessible to more people. One of its programs raises money for park passes for foster children. If you are a Vermont foster parent and are interested in receiving a pass for your child this summer, you should contact the Department of Children and Families (DCF); Vermont Parks Forever let DCF determine whom to distribute passes to.
- Treehouse provides free clothing, shoes, school supplies, and more to foster kids. (Note: Some services have restricted eligibility and are only available in King County.) It also has a list of resources on its website.
- Foster Adventure allows foster parents to submit wish requests on its website. The charity then works to grant these wishes through fundraising. It also has a Christmas Wallet program, which gifts foster children wallets filled with gift cards to their favorite places.
- Grow Hope @ SaintA offers resources to current and prospective foster parents and a discount card that can be used at participating businesses.
A few states offer support to foster families by allowing free access to parks statewide.
Florida State Parks: Family Annual Entrance Pass
- Discount: Free annual entrance pass and discounted camping at Florida state parks
- Eligibility: Photo ID, foster care license
- More information from Florida State Parks
Oregon State Parks: Special Access Pass
- Discount: All-access pass to Oregon’s state parks, where foster families can camp for free for up to 14 days
- Eligibility: Foster parents must be certified through the Oregon Department of Human Services
- More Information from Oregon State Parks
Washington State Parks: Foster Home Camping Pass
- Discount: Free campsites and day-use entry to Washington state parks
- Eligibility: Foster Parent ID Card/License
- More Information from Washington State Parks
Places That Do Not Offer Discounts for Foster Parents
Unfortunately, unless you work with a nonprofit or charity that has a connection with one of the following businesses, those listed below do not offer discounts for foster families:
- Marcus Theatres
- Pick ‘n Save
- Sam’s Club
- Six Flags Great America
- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
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There are discounts for foster families and even free stuff for foster parents. Many states have nonprofit organizations and charities dedicated to helping foster families by providing free clothing, school supplies, and more. Some charities will even provide funding for big-ticket items like laptops, bikes, and education costs. And a few groups have teamed up with local businesses to supply discount cards that can be used at participating locations. A few state parks also offer free, year-round access to foster families. If there aren’t any organizations in your state that give directly to foster families, you can contact the proper government department (usually health, social, and/or child services) to see if it has any resources available.