By Kendra Lowden, Foster Care/Adoption Manager
Caring for children involved in the child welfare system can be challenging due to the trauma they have faced. There are ample support options available for foster children, but not as many for the foster parents who are caring and advocating for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Being a foster parent is much more than loving children. Often, the day-to-day hardships and complexities of working with multiple agencies are the biggest challenges. Although not everyone is able to foster, most people offer a kind gesture. Here are some simple ways you can help:
Reach out via phone, email or social media. Offering words of encouragement is helpful for everyone, especially for a foster parent who is juggling all the responsibilities that come with caring for children involved in the complex child welfare system. Even one kind word makes a difference.
Save a foster parent a trip to the store by picking up groceries. You can also order items for delivery through websites like FireLake Discount Foods, Walmart or Amazon. Committing to helping a foster family with simple actions like this can make such a difference when someone is struggling and can help them find the balance they need to be their best selves for their family.
Children in care are not always able to bring all of their belongings into foster homes. Sharing new or gently used items for children is very helpful. You can donate clothing, toys, sports equipment, diapers, bottles and anything children in your own life would need to feel safe and comfortable.
Remember all children in the home
Biological and adopted children in the foster home still need the same love and attention as foster children. Offer to take them out for a movie night or to an activity. Do not worry about being “fair.” We can trust foster parents to navigate that topic with each child. It is okay to show children attention at separate times.
Hold back negative comments about biological parents. Do not assume every child who has been abused or neglected is damaged, unloved or needs to be adopted. Avoid asking questions about any trauma the children may have experienced or about the situation with their biological parents. That is private information. Remember that all behavior has meaning, and a struggling child may be expressing their emotions in the only way they know how to at that moment. There are no “bad” children, only bad experiences.
For more information, contact FireLodge Children & Family Services at 405-878-4831.