5 ways churches can support the foster care community
How can your church engage in foster care ministry?
It takes a village to care for a child. God calls christians to care for the vulnerable. Not everyone is called to foster but everyone can do something. While prayer is crucial for foster families, children in foster care, and their biological families, churches and church members can do more than pray.
1. Maintain a supply room for new placements
Oftentimes foster parents receive little to no time to prepare for a new placement. Churches can support foster families in their congregation and community by maintaining a supply room where foster families can gather needed supplies quickly for a new placement. When creating your supply room don't forget, children in foster care range in age from newborn to 18 years old.
- Beds, cribs, and other furniture
- Diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, and other toiletries
- Clothes, shoes, coats, socks, underwear, and pajamas
- Bedding, blankets, room decor, pillows, and pillow cases
- Books, toys, games, school supplies, and backpacks
- High chairs, strollers, car seats (be careful of expiration dates), and booster seats
An important way churches can support foster care ministry is providing trauma-informed training to those who work with children at church. Volunteers, Sunday school teachers, and youth leaders should increase their knowledge on trauma and its effects. The more they learn, the more they'll be able to prevent children from being misunderstood or experiencing feelings of rejection when they attend church activities.
Trust Based Relational Intervention Training Videos
3. Support Groups
The journey a foster family experiences should not be walked alone. Churches can support foster families by connecting them with other foster families to talk, pray, and fellowship together. Regularly meeting with other families who understand court dates, appointments, parent visits, trauma behaviors, and state paperwork will help families feel less isolated.
How to encourage a foster care support group:
- Offer a dedicated time and place for foster families to meet
- Provide certified, trained childcare for the meeting
- If your church has trained counselors, volunteer their services to the group
- Supply refreshments for the meeting and snacks for the kids
4. Talk about foster care and adoption regularly
In James 1:27, the Bible clearly instructs Christians to move towards hard places and hurt people, not away from them. Churches have an obligation to remind their congregation of this commission and support church members as they support others.
- Incorporate mentions of foster care and adoption into sermons on a regular basis
- Raise awareness of the large need for families to care of vulnerable children in your community
- Share how your church will support families who choose to foster
- Include information about National Foster Care Month, National Adoption Month, and Orphan Sunday in your church bulletin
5. Host information meetings at your church
Churches can encourage members of their congregations to foster by giving them accessible information about the programs and process. Host an information meeting at your church for your members and local community.
How to host an information meeting:
- Invite reputable, local organizations who do foster care ministry to speak or host a booth at your meeting
- Provide certified, trained childcare for the meeting so interested parents can learn, ask questions, and gather information in a kid-free environment
- Assemble bags for families who attend. Include a brochure from each organization and information about how your church supports foster families
- Provide refreshments for the meeting and snacks for the kids