May is National Foster Care Month! We want to acknowledge and thank all those who open up home and heart to children and their families in a time of crisis. Even if you’re not in a place to foster children or youth yourself, there are so many ways to wrap around foster families with support.
So let’s get practical: Here are 6 ways you can support foster families in your church or community. We challenge you to choose at least one for this month, then keep the support rolling throughout the year!
1. Bring food
You can always start here. A hot meal can bring a whole lot of comfort, even in the midst of a whole lot of chaos. You can serve a family by delivering a hot meal, assembling a few freezer meals or packing a basket of full of yummy snacks. Everyone’s schedule and abilities are different, so don’t feel pressure to be the next Rachel Ray — show up in the right moment with a mocha latte for a foster parent with a new infant placement, and they just might do a happy dance!
2. Organize a meal train
Consider taking #1 to the next level and making sure the family has a steady stream of yummy support coming their way. This is especially important in the first couple of weeks after a new placement arrives. MealTrain.com is just one of the many websites available to make this process efficient and helpful for a family that deserves a little extra love.
3. Gather supplies when a new placement arrives
Before and after a new placement arrives, be proactive and ask what the family needs. Maybe it’s diapers and a baby gate? Maybe it’s bunk beds and backpacks? Especially if a family fosters children of varying ages and genders over time, the supplies they need start to add up — both financially and space-wise. One way you might be able to help is offer to store supplies for them!
4. Welcome a new placement
When an infant, toddler or teenager arrives to a new foster home, this time can be loaded with different kinds of emotions for everyone involved. Help the parents, and possibly their own biological children, welcome the child into their home. Talk with the foster parents about how you can help with the transition. You could deliver a gift or activity that the family could enjoy together that first evening or week.
This is a big one. Foster parenthood (and parenthood in general), and the busyness and complexity that comes with it, can often leave foster parents feeling isolated or unknown. Regularly and proactively check in with your friends to see how they’re doing. Grieve with them. Laugh with them. Pray with them. Finally, try not to give unsolicited advice; be with them and listen.
Finally — and firstly — pray. There are battles going on that we can’t always see. Pray for the child. Pray for their biological families. Pray for their foster parents. Pray for the biological children of the foster parents.
Remember, you don’t have to do everything. Start with one small yes.
“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.”
― Bob Goff, “Love Does”
Together, when you contribute your voice, time, talents or resources, we can have a measurable impact!