What are the specific next steps for your church? We are partnering with Fostering Joy as a way to help churches be a part of the foster care solution. This program has proven successful in numerous other states and provides each church with information, curriculum, mentoring, and support for their various levels of involvement. Sign up HERE to be a part.
There are so many things your local church can do. Here are some suggestions:
Dedicate a sermon or series to the need - Preach about foster care, or have a speaker come and share the need on a Sunday. (Justin and Sarah Oberndorfer have spoken at many churches to share their story and what churches can do to be involved in foster care. Email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Informational Meeting - In response to the sermon, host a meeting for all interested in fostering, getting more info, or providing support to foster families/children.
Host A Foster Care Training Class - Your church can be a host site for the foster care training class where the professional instructor provided by the agency/state walks families through the steps and training to become licensed.
Create Support Teams for Foster Families - For families who become licensed, there are so many needs they have. Give other church people ways to help. Some suggestions include: (1) meals; (2) baby-sitting; (3) respite care; (4) gift cards for clothing; (5) transport drivers; (6) errands/grocery shopping; (7) service like lawn care or home repairs; (8) physical items - like beds, bedding, or baby-gates; (9) prayer/encouragement.
Small Group/Discipleship Study on the Orphan - Sometimes God needs to move our hearts to action and that can take place through a study of His Word and personal application to care for the orphan. In some churches with no connection to foster care, this is the first step.
Network with other churches in the community - Partnering and combining resources to support foster families and foster children in our local churches is powerful. (Ex: share a clothing closet; a meal train; emergency respite providers; training events; respite events).
Join Care Portal - Churches can join Care Portal where social workers take the needs of foster children and bio churches and submit them to the churches within their specific geographic location of the need. If you join, your church will be given an email notice of the specific need and an invitation to respond that is passed on to your church body.
Support your Foster Families
Many churches may already have foster families within their churches. It is essential that our understanding of Biblical Community is applied to these families. Our churches must support these families doing the hard work that God has called them to.
Fostering is HARD! The average foster home will quit within one year due to burnout. As a church, we have the Gospel to propel us forward and support these families in tangible ways.
Respite Care - A foster family may only leave their children with a licensed foster home. We need church families to step up and become licensed so they can provide this crucial support piece.
Volunteer Program - KVC is developing a trauma-informed volunteer training program that will be shortened from the 10 week MAPPS class, so that individuals can meet needs such as extended baby-sitting, helping drive to and from the many visits that take place at agency offices or for therapy.
Prepared Meals - There are many times the trauma behavior of a foster child causes exhaustion for the foster family. In these moments, prepared meals can bring encouragement. In addition, when a new foster child is placed in the home there is often little time to prepare meals.
Service Teams - Preparing your home for the requirements of licensing may involve repairs to the home, rearranging furniture, installing locking cabinets or new beds. People can help alleviate this burden.
Running Errands/Grocery Shopping - Often the trauma behavior of a foster child makes it difficult to run errands or buy groceries. Having a hand with such tasks is essential.
Financial Support - Although the state provides a daily stipend for a foster child it can be insufficient. For example, currently the clothing allowance gives a family $125 every 6 months for kids birth through teenagers. Providing financial support for new clothes, or giving gift cards can help alleviate the financial burden to families.
Prayer is Key -- Lifiing up specific prayer requests on behalf of the foster family and foster child is the only way to healing for the child and compassion and wisdom for the foster parent.
connect with other churches
God has often stirred the hearts of individuals within our local churches to foster care. However, if each individual or each church is responding to God to care for foster children as individual silos, we cannot see God's power at work and the movement that is happening. Serving in isolation prevents the passion from being ignited. We need to bring our foster/adoptive families together in our churches so they can encourage, testify, and unite.
In addition, we need to network with other churches in our communities who are also committed to answering the call of God to care for foster children. Again, it is when we come together we see the power of the mighty hand of God at work. As churches we must:
Share testimonies of God's foster care movement
Partner with resources to serve our foster families (such as respite events for the public, networking for respite care, sharing training resources).
Proclaim the need so that every person in our communities must be faced with a prayerful decision of their role in response to the foster care crisis.
Share prayer requests and victories in this foster care journey.