The Ecosystem of Flourishing: What Those in Foster Care Need to Thrive

Like the creation around us, humans need a supportive environment to thrive. God has called his people to be that environment for the vulnerable children in our midst.
By Roy Baldwin
April 17, 2024 • 3 min read

In the heart of the Midwest is a landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see: Nebraska’s prairies. Endless expanses of golden grasses sway gently in the breeze while wildflowers dot the landscape like specks of paint on a canvas.

It’s a place of quiet beauty, where the earth whispers stories of resilience, adaptation, and growth. But beneath the surface lies a delicate ecosystem providing nourishment, stability, and care to what’s visible above the ground.

According to the Nebraska Game and Parks writes, “Nebraska is a true prairie state. Prairie landscapes are defined by moderate temperatures, moderate rainfall, and few trees. Prairies and grasslands are also some of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. Scientists believe nearly 80% of prairies are now gone. These biomes have just as much, if not more, biological diversity as the rainforest or the coral reefs. However, much of this biodiversity can be found below the ground in the soil.”

While some might look at a prairie and think it’s nothing special, the ecosystem beneath and around it is quite complex. Without any number of vital conditions, prairies will die.

When Jesus taught his followers, he often used stories from nature to teach them about life with God. Thinking deeply about nature helps us again here. Just as our prairies require an all-encompassing, vibrant ecosystem to flourish, so too do many of the children and families impacted by trauma, abuse, addictions, neglect, and poverty.

Like the creation around us, humans need a supportive environment to thrive. Prairies are now an endangered ecosystem, and we believe stable homes and communities are approaching a similar level for children in our state and nation. At Christian Heritage, we believe God has designed his Church to be the ecosystem for human flourishing. We can leave a temporal and eternal impact on families that will last generations.

With a prairie’s ecosystem on our mind, consider how the Church can and must be the environment where children in foster care flourish.

  • Roots in stability: Much like the prairie grasses anchor themselves firmly into the soil, providing stability against the elements, children in foster care need roots deeply planted in stability and felt safety. Consistency in caregivers, routines, and environments serves as the foundation for their growth and development.
  • Nourishment of love: Just as the prairie receives nourishment from rain and sunlight, children in foster care require an abundance of love, care, and affection to flourish. These nurturing elements provide sustenance for their souls, helping them bloom into flourishing adults despite the challenges they may face.
  • Resilience in adaptation: Nebraska’s prairies have weathered storms, droughts, and fires, yet they persist, adapting to whatever challenges come their way. Similarly, children demonstrate remarkable resilience as they navigate transitions, uncertainty, and adversity, finding strength in their ability to adapt and grow.
  • Community support: The prairie ecosystem is not an isolated entity but part of a larger community of plants, animals, and other ecosystems that support and sustain one another. Similarly, children and young people in foster care thrive when surrounded by a supportive community—foster families, social workers, mentors, and advocates—who rally around them, providing guidance, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
  • Hope in renewal: Just as the prairie undergoes cycles of growth, dormancy, and renewal, so too do children in foster care experience seasons of change and transformation. With the right support and resources, they can emerge from challenging circumstances with renewed hope for the future, embracing the opportunities that lie ahead.

As we marvel at the beauty and resilience of our prairies, let us also reflect on the profound parallels they hold with the nurturing conditions essential for children and young people in foster care.

Like the resilient prairie grasses that dance in the wind, rooted firmly in the earth, may we cultivate environments rich in stability, love, resilience, and care, ensuring every child has the opportunity to flourish.

Do you want to be a part of a child’s “ecosystem” to help them flourish? We’d love to talk. Reach out today to learn how you can be a vital part of a child’s life.

Roy Baldwin

Roy is the CEO of Christian Heritage. He has 20+ years experience working with at-risk children and families. Before joining CH, Roy was the director of a Christian camp, Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family, and a house parent at Milton-Hershey School in Pennsylvania. A native of Pittsburgh, Roy is a passionate fan of the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. He and his wife Karen have three children.