All of us feel that undeniable tug on our hearts when it comes to hurting children. The call to care for those suffering abuse and neglect seems to be planted deep within us. Many churches have mission boards. Whole denominations devote themselves to missions. But there are missionaries in our own backyards that deserve our attention and support too.
The selfless families who choose to step into the grueling, daily work of foster care are changing the lives of our nation’s children every day. Theirs is not an easy mission. It requires sacrifice, commitment, patience and a lot of faith. What if these families, like foreign missionaries, had a team behind them saying “you are not alone?” Whether this is your season to say “yes” to fostering or your season to support others, there is a part for us all to play on this local mission field. So what does supporting these families on the front lines look like?
Here are 10 practical ways you can help a foster family in your community.
Never underestimate the power of prayer. Take time to call on God on behalf of the family. Ask them and address their specific needs in prayer. Pray for their children, their marriage, their relationships with family. Pray over their sleep, their finances, their social workers. You will be amazed at the wonders God works through these families.
Respite care can be one of the biggest blessings you can give to a foster family. Give them time to focus on their marriage or do something fun for themselves. This might mean keeping their foster child(ren) for a day or a weekend. Odds are, you’ll have a new appreciation for these warrior parents by pick up time.
Oh, the stress that envelops every trip to the store. The crowds, the noise, the ever-distracting toy aisle – it can lead to some very trying, very public meltdowns and a swift exit. What a blessing you could be by offering to run to the store to grab a few essentials for a struggling foster parent. This could be especially helpful when a family member is ill or when a family is informed of a new incoming foster placement.
Work with foster families in your community to cut out the stigma surrounding children in foster care. You can provide some much-needed social interaction by scheduling a play date with your kids and theirs! Plus, while the kids are romping around the park, you two can take a much-needed break on the bench.
Me time is sorely missing from almost every foster parent’s schedule. Face-to-face adult interactions can do a lot for their sanity, as can having a friend available and willing to listen as they talk through their struggles. Buy them a coffee and listen.
Busy foster parents focus so much of their time and energy on meeting the emotional needs of their children. Having such a basic physical need met can take a huge load off of a parent mentally. It doesn’t have to be much. A pizza delivery can go a long way.
Caring for a foster parent can be simple. Write them an encouraging letter or give them a quick phone call just to check in. Knowing they have someone rooting for them is so important for parents doing the hard work.
Do a load of laundry. Empty and refill the dishwasher. Wipe down the bathroom mirror or unclog the drain. Household chores can pile up for even the most diligent parent. Showing up and spending an hour cleaning can brighten the day of an entire household. Cleaning not your jam? If you have the means, maybe consider hiring someone for a day.
Appointments, appointments, appointments. Nothing characterizes a foster parent’s journey more. Ask if you can help with soccer pick up while they attend therapy. Offer to carpool for school or pick up the dry cleaning. One less errand for them can make such a difference.
Many foster parents struggle to set aside time and money to treat themselves. Gift cards (coupled with an offer to babysit) can ensure they get the date night or spa day they’ve needed for months!
Join us at one of our Foster Care Info Meetings for a casual, no pressure opportunity to learn more and ask questions – virtually!