Foster parents play a vital role in providing a safe and nurturing environment for vulnerable children. It can be incredibly rewarding to serve as a foster parent.
But it also comes with its challenges and can feel isolating at times.
That’s why it’s essential for God’s people to rally around foster parents and offer unwavering support. In this blog, we will explore ten simple ways you can support foster parents, helping them create a stable and loving home for the children in their care.
Together, we can build a gospel-centered community to ensure that every child in need receives the love and support they deserve.
Foster and Adoptive Families Need Support
Experiencing the joy of welcoming a child into one’s home, providing love, and support during a challenging time is a profound gift for foster and adoptive families.
However, it is undeniable that being a part of such families comes with its unique set of trials and changes. In these transformative moments, foster and adoptive families rely heavily on the love and encouragement of their community.
Supporting these families becomes vital for their success and well-being as they navigate the joys and challenges of their new roles. You don’t need any kind of expertise in trauma or foster care to extend a helping hand.
You just need a heart willing to serve.
Reaching out to foster and adoptive families communicates a powerful message. It’s a way to say, “I see you. I’m with you. I’m for you.”
Through this support, we let foster parents know they matter in ways beyond words, providing them with immeasurable encouragement as they fulfill their vital role in the life of a child.
A Chance to Show the Love and Hospitality of Jesus
Because Jesus has called us to follow him, we have the calling and honor to care for those in need, especially vulnerable children who need a safe place to call home.
Not everyone is called to be a foster parent. And that’s a good thing. If every Christian served as a foster parent, foster parents would lack the necessary support.
But all of us can do something.
Jesus’ ministry revolved around serving the hurting, the marginalized, the sick, the poor, and the vulnerable. In a culture that didn’t value children, Jesus had a special place in his heart for children. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
As we step into the lives of foster families and the children in their care, we get to show the love and hospitality of Jesus.
Foster parents show love and hospitality by welcoming a child into their home. The rest of us can show that love and hospitality by welcoming the foster family into our lives. In a way, too, we’re asking the foster family if we can invite ourselves into their lives.
As we do this together, we grow as a gospel-centered community. Rather than saying, “It’s the foster parent’s job to care for a child,” we say, “It’s our job as a community to give the care, support, and love this foster family and child need to flourish.”
10 Simple Ways to Support Foster Parents
Let’s look at 10 simple ways to support foster families. These ideas aren’t revolutionary, but we promise they will make a huge impact for those you help.
Prayer really is the first priority. Don’t underestimate it! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Pray for God to encourage their hearts with his presence and love. That they would be reminded of their calling and that the Lord is their strength.
- Pray for wisdom and compassion as they care for both the foster children and their own children’s needs.
- Pray for the foster family to be surrounded by a care community who will support, encourage, and provide for them in big and small ways. (And for insights on how you can best support them!)
- Pray for physical, emotional and spiritual healing for the foster children in their care. Pray for these children to meet Jesus.
Pray for these things and watch God work!
The best way to serve foster parents is ask them what they need. It’s easy to assume they want their lawn mowed or their laundry done (or anything else we have on this list). But what if it’s something else?
Don’t wait for a foster parent to tell you what they need. Take the initiative and say, “I want to be a support to you while you’re caring for children. What one or two things can I do that would be most beneficial to you?”
3. Provide a Meal or Organize a Meal Train
Cooking takes up a lot of time and it’s not always possible to spend money on eating out. That’s why it’s an incredible blessing for a foster family to receive a meal.
What’s better than one meal? A regular schedule of provided meals. Consider making a meal for a foster family once a week or helping to organize a meal train and inviting other friends, family, and church members to sign up.
4. Offer to Help with Transportation
It can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting to be a foster parent. Coordinating doctor appointments, school drop-offs, after-school activities, parent visits, court appearances, family meetings, and more can overwhelm even the most organized person.
You can’t take these things off a foster parent’s schedule. But you can offer to help with transportation. In fact, transportation is one of the biggest obstacles for a foster parent! If you are transporting a foster child, you’ll just need to be approved by your agency and pass a background check.
5. Listen and Show Empathy
Foster parents can often feel alone in their journey. That’s why it’s important for them to have someone they trust listen to them. Reach out and let them know you are here to be a listening ear. Be clear you won’t offer advice, counsel, or a different perspective unless they ask you.
A few things to remember when listening to a foster parent:
- Give them your full presence and attention when listening.
- Never try to make a situation better by saying, “At least…” after they share a hard experience
- If you don’t know what to say, tell them, “I’m so sorry. I love you and am so glad you shared that with me.”
6. Provide Respite Care
Foster parents often need a break to recharge. Offer to provide respite care, giving them the opportunity to take some time for themselves. But they need to know their foster children are in good hands. That’s where you come in.
Providing respite is kind of like babysitting. It can be for an afternoon, overnight, or a weekend. To be a respite provider in Nebraska, you’ll need to complete a background check
7. Attend Training and Support Meetings
Even if you aren’t a foster parent, you can encourage your friend who is by attending a training or support meeting with them. First, you’ll educate yourself on the foster care system and get inside their world. Second, it’s another way to show a foster parent that you support their calling and want them to thrive. Your active participation shows your commitment to understanding their challenges and being a part of the support network.
8. Help With Yardwork or Housework
Get your entire family involved in supporting a foster parent by assisting with household maintenance. Encourage your kids to participate in activities like raking leaves or gardening. Offer a helping hand with chores such as laundry, dishes, or general cleaning. Consider gifting a maid service gift card to ensure the home is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Be sure to ask for specifics. Instead of saying, “Can I help with yardwork?” ask, “Would it be helpful if I mowed your lawn once a week?”
9. Help Welcome a New Placement
Supporting foster parents during the arrival of a new placement is a powerful way to uplift them. Placements often happen on short notice–sometimes within an hour. Placement is a great time to swing by a restaurant to bring a meal or run to the store to buy groceries for the foster family.
Depending on the age of the child or children coming into the foster home, plan ahead and give clothes, shoes, toiletries, games, activities, and snacks to the foster parent. That way they won’t when they get the call that a child needs a home.
10. Celebrate Milestones
Celebrate the milestones and achievements of foster children and their parents. Marking these special moments not only brings joy but also reinforces the positive impact foster parents have on the lives of the children they care for.
Make it a point to attend birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays when you’re invited. Want to go a step further? Ask a foster parent if you can help plan a celebration. Foster parents have complex schedules and even important milestones can get lost in the shuffle.
You Can Help a Foster Family
Supporting foster parents is a collective responsibility that has far-reaching impacts on the lives of vulnerable children. Not everyone is called to be a foster parent. But everyone who follows Jesus is called to be a part of supporting vulnerable children. By offering emotional support, providing respite care, attending meetings, making meals, and more, we can build a strong foster care community that nurtures and empowers both foster parents and the children they care for.
Together, we can create a gospel-centered community of support that ensures every child in foster care experiences the love, stability, and opportunity to flourish.
Contact us to get started helping foster parents in Nebraska today.