The child welfare system is complex and full of many different roles from social workers, attorneys, advocates, judges, and other professionals. An entire state agency is dedicated to these efforts. But the child welfare system could not operate without families who agree to get uncomfortably close to trauma.
When a child enters foster care, he typically moves from his biological family’s home directly into a certified foster home. Children are placed in protective custody at all hours of the day and night, based on the threat to the child’s safety. Child Protection Workers are dependent on foster families to answer phone calls at any time and willingly accept a new child into their home. If a foster home cannot be immediately secured, a caseworker must remain with the child until a foster family is willing and able to accept the child.
We often remark about how it takes a “special kind of person” to answer the call to foster, and it certainly does! However, we must remember that fostering is not a one-family or one-person job. Foster families need extensive support to be able to meet the needs of vulnerable children who are walking through some of the darkest times in their short lives. When asking foster families about their needs, we often think of material things that could ease the financial burden of caring for another child. However, when speaking with families who are in the midst of caring for multiple children with complex needs, their most requested need is a “community ” of support. Fostering can be isolating. It’s hard to understand it unless you’ve walked through it. Time and time again, I’ve heard families say they were able to continue fostering because of friends, family, and church members who walked with them through their struggles. They refer to trusted friends who helped with transportation, child care, and emotional support. They are incredibly grateful for material items and donations, but they often note that they couldn’t have survived without friends and family who were willing to step into the trenches with them.
Foster care advocacy isn’t a cause limited to foster families and child welfare professionals. We all have a purpose and role to fulfill. When families answer the call to foster, God provides in countless ways. Many times, He provides people who make it possible for foster families to say “yes.”
For information on becoming a foster family or how your family or church can support a foster family, contact Kerri at email@example.com or 318-918-0091.