Did you know, that if ONE family from every church congregation in South Carolina fostered a child, there would be enough families to care for EVERY foster child in South Carolina, with additional families available for respite?
May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and this month we are highlighting ways the community can get involved so that no child falls through the cracks.
There is a saying that "it takes a village to raise a child." Fostering a child brings unique joys and challenges to a family, and many foster families feel alone and without support. For communities of faith, this should never be. Local church congregations have the unique opportunity to surround the foster families in their church with love, prayers, and tangible support.
What does that tangible support look like? I'm so glad you asked! Tangible support can take many forms, based on an individual's strengths and gifts, and the foster family's particular needs. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
1. Gift Cards - With additional children in the family, expenses naturally grow. Gift cards for fun activities,
restaurants, grocery stores, and clothing stores can help make life (and the budget!) more feasible for the family.
2. Childcare - Free babysitting so parents can have a break.
3. Transport - Offer to help drive children to and from school and/or activities.
4. Laundry- Pick up their dirty laundry, and return with clean laundry. Additional people = additional
laundry, especially if there are young children in the family.
5. Activities - Sponsor a child for summer camp, soccer, or ballet.
6. Meals - Pick a designated night for families in the Church to bring a meal. For example, The Jones
Family knows that every Tuesday night, someone from the congregation will be providing
dinner. Even just one meal a week is one less thing for families to worry about.
P.S. Bring paper plates with the meal, and try to carry the meal over in disposable containers.
7. Diapers - We all know diapers are expensive. For families who receive infants, a box of Pampers can
be a huge blessing. Just make sure to check with the family on sizing, as babies can vary
immensely in size and weight.
8. Immediate Needs - Children in foster care can come and go without much notice. Often a new
placement comes suddenly, and new needs, such as a car seat or clothes, arise.
Be flexible and willing to step up immediately when such needs arise.
9. Grace- Many children in foster care have experienced trauma and/or lack of parenting. So when
children act up during Sunday Service, or have a melt down in the parking lot afterwards, be
ready to shower the child (or teenager), and the foster parents with grace.
10. Empathy- This is HUGE. Recognize that foster parents have the standard challenges of
parenting, but with additional challenges of trauma, and the roller-coaster that is the
foster care system. If foster parents look weary and overwhelmed, they are, and for good reason. Don't try to reason the challenges away, or compare them to your own parenting
struggles. Just listen, validate with understanding, ask what you can do to
make their burden a little lighter, and then do it!
What are ways your Church Congregation can step up and support the foster family in your midst?