How to Love Families in the Foster Care System
There are so many Christian families that have undertaken the enormous privilege and challenge of caring for a foster child. As KidMin leaders, it’s our privilege and challenge to help care for those families. I’ve known several couples who have opened their homes to foster children, and I asked them how they would be best served by their church. This is how they responded.
1. Arrange a Meal Train
Adapting to having a child (or another child) is no small undertaking. The first couple of weeks can be the most challenging, so creating a meal chain can lift a huge weight as the family adjusts to a new rhythm. This is a super simple way to love a family that is fostering. Send out a meal train invite to your staff, your volunteers, and any families connected to the fostering family. This website makes it easy to create: https://www.mealtrain.com.
2. Have a Foster Shower
Foster kids can vary greatly in age. A family might end up fostering an elementary student or an infant, so it’s hard to prepare. When someone at your church is blessed with a foster child, throw a shower to help provide what they need according to the age of the child.
If your church encourages and supports fostering (or has a lot of families engaged in the foster system), consider asking for space to store essentials that could be pulled on demand. For instance, if a family benefited from a foster shower, but then had their foster child move on, they could donate what they received to serve a future foster family.
3. Provide a Parents’ Night Out
Designate one night a month where you recruit volunteers to care for kiddos so their parents can go out. Give priority to foster parents – but this could also be a great opportunity to serve single parents, military parents (should one be on leave), and just busy parents who may not have family nearby and find it hard to get a night away.
You don’t need to have a set curriculum. There doesn’t need to be an agenda. You could simply provide, say, two hours of large games, crafts, dance parties, skits, and so forth.
4. Ask Foster Care Parents What They Need
Talk to your foster parents. Whether you have one family or a dozen, ask them what they most need and then take those needs to your church family. Make specific requests – for transportation or for groceries or for prayer or for whatever they ask –through your children’s ministry channels and/or through the weekend sermons. You may have people in your children’s ministry orbit who would love to know how they could serve another family taking on a foster child. You may also have people who aren’t at all connected to your children’s ministry but heard about a need from the senior pastor that would love to contribute.
Ask questions. Be compassionate. Get creative. Foster parents sign up for sacrifice – and for joy. As a community of believers, we sign up for sacrifice and joy alongside them.