Monday, February 6, 2017

Real Life Help

Our family has been involved with the foster care system for nearly 3 years.
In that time it has become apparent that the need is great for more support for the foster system.
It can become overwhelming, especially if you already know that yet have no idea where to start.
Can I share a few ideas?

The first few are obvious:

1. Become a foster family. I especially encourage this if you are a Christian and have received the kind of love that only Christ can give. Countless kids and families are in need for that very love. If you feel any pull whatsoever in the direction of being a vein through which that love can flow, go for it and trust God to provide! He will!! I have seen it. I have lived it. I have watched as He has provided for other families who foster stepping out on a prayer, trusting God with the terrifying unknown.

2. Adopt. Make a child who belongs only to the state, belong to you. What an eternal gift for both of you.

If neither of these options will ever really be an option for you, read on....

3. Become a respite provider. In our region, this requires a background check, fingerprinting, and a caseworker coming to your home and conducting a simple interview. Foster families sometimes need to travel and aren't able to bring the foster child along. Other times, a foster family might just need a break from giving 24/7 child care. Respite could be overnight, a couple of weeks, or anything in between. It is a short term situation and often a very high need.

4. Become an approved babysitter. In our region, this requires only an annual background check. It is limited to daytime babysitting meaning the child would not be permitted to stay overnight. This too is insanely helpful. The more support a foster family has, the better chance it will have for success. In our family's case, at one point we only had our youngest child attending family visits and I could not bring our older two along to the drop off. It would have been too emotionally complicated for everyone. So I needed someone to stay with the older two. Sometimes my husband could stay home from work but often that was not possible. Thank goodness for approved babysitters.

5. Become a CASA volunteer. A CASA volunteer advocates for what is in the best interest of an abused or neglected child. They often attend family team meetings, court hearings, review documents, and check in with children placed in foster homes. Our CASA volunteer has become like a surrogate grandfather to our kids. He visits at least once a month for an hour or so. We keep each other up to date on case developments and he has offered our children so much support. He is also involved with other families and I know has been a blessing to each of them. He was at the adoption hearing for our girls to celebrate with us. By becoming a CASA, you are able to care for a specific child directly though not providing day to day care and family life.

6. Make a meal for a family who has had a knew placement. Food is a game changer. We were blessed to have family and a friend or two bring us meals each time a child was placed with us. My mother-in-law even stocked our pantry when we brought home our second daughter. Seeing as how she was a complete surprise without any time to prep, that was an incredible relief. When I brought our third home, though I didn't have to heal from giving birth, I still had two other children (ages 1 and 2) and a very busy husband who's schedule could not slow at the time. It was madness but a free dinner dropped off at our doorstep was God's love incarnate.

7. Support your local foster care agency. Volunteering time is always an option. I do not have to tell you how overworked those people are. The turn over rate is high because it is a hard, thankless job with some high points but many, many low points. You could call to see if there are any practical needs. Car seats are always needed. Diapers, clothing, and basic hygiene items. I've heard of people putting together a journey bag to give to children when they are removed and have nothing. This can look like filling a gently used backpack or duffle bag with some clothes, hygiene items, a book, and a comfort item. This small gesture could provide a world of comfort to a child who's world is spinning out of control.

I think most people are desperate to help but also desperately stuck.
Taking anyone of these steps in an effort to show the love of Christ that you've been shown is powerful.

I am endlessly grateful for the support we have received.
We have some faithful people around us.
It has made all the difference not only to me and my husband, but more importantly to the kids that came into our home needing a group like that to support them.
Not just with good intentions but foot-to-the-pavement type love.

No comments:

Post a Comment