Foster kids need the church. Foster families need the church.Here are 15 ways to be a foster care friendly church–
- Educate, educate, educate. Host informational meetings for would-be foster parents, but also for members of the church family who simply want to learn more about foster care.
- Add foster care discussion to existing (paid/volunteer) staff training. Many children who come from hard places have unique challenges and behaviors that require extra love and patience from those in authority.
- Host foster care licensing opportunities on campus. Open these classes to church families and members of the community. Not only is this decision helpful to the local foster care agency, but it sends a clear signal to foster families that your church will support their efforts to foster.
- Organize meal trains for new placements. If your church family provides meals to new moms, be sure to include foster parents in this ministry. Though foster parents haven’t given birth with each placement, their hands are full and their hearts and minds are exhausted.
- Provide help with with errands. Heading to the store? Call and see if you can pick anything up for a foster family in your church. Not having to load kids in the car to make an extra trip could be a huge blessing.
- Maintain a supply closet (or room!) Maintain space in the church where church members can donate beds, clothes, cribs, diapers, furniture, and other items that could be used by foster families. Assign a church member or small group the task of collecting and sorting donations to ensure the items are good quality and easily accessible.
- Make consistent, encouraging contact. Quick calls or texts go a long way in encouraging families who are doing the daily work of loving and caring for the fatherless. Especially on important days (such as court cases or parental visits), let the family know you care and are praying for them.
- Invite families to participate in dedicatory prayers. Pray for families who are starting the foster care process. Publicly commit to support them as a church body.
- Put foster families on the church prayer sheet. As we remember to pray for families in the church who are facing deep personal trials or challenges, let’s not neglect to pray for families caring for kids in need.
- Offer childcare. Check with local foster families to see what the current requirements are for babysitting children in foster care. If certification is necessary (or helpful), encourage families to pursue it by hosting a certification class at the church.
- Help with seasonal tasks. Offer to help with yard cleanup, gutter work, snow removal, etc., This can be a huge value to busy families.
- Support local foster care agencies and workers. Build relationships with key foster care leaders in the area. Ask them how you can help. Invite them to a special dinner or service. Send notes of encouragement. Do a donation drive to collect supplies they need.
- Include all children in regular church activities. Be careful not to distinguish children who are adopted or being fostered from children in biological families. This can be terribly hurtful to children and parents. Invite all children to all church events, even if that means tailoring activities to the needs of specific kids.
- Listen. Foster families will typically answer your questions honestly if you ask them how they feel and what they need and how you can best minister to their kids.
- Tell foster children and families that they are welcome, cherished, and needed in the church family. (And then tell them again!)