5 Ways the Church Can Impact Foster Care Right Now
By Krista Petty of America’s Kids Belong & Kristin Miller of Tennessee Kids Belong
The health and economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis are rightfully at center stage right now, but just behind the curtain is another concern: vulnerable children and teens. Most children will not suffer the dire health effects of the virus, but too many at-risk children will become secondary victims.
What’s Happening Now: There is an unusual drop in child welfare reports. Mandatory abuse and neglect reporters, like teachers, daycare workers, mentors, pastors and even neighbors are no longer present in the lives of vulnerable children. Additionally, families just got more vulnerable: change in routine, stress, job loss, limited access to mental and physical health resources, and more. The American safety net system for kids is nearly non-existent.
What’s Next: As the quarantine lifts, child welfare experts say we will see a surge in neglect and abuse reports and children entering the already burdened foster care system. This will be similar to, but likely more devastating than, the surges seen after each school break. (Yes, unfortunately, there are some predictable patterns in the work of child welfare.)
Church, NOW is the time to prepare for Foster Care recovery. Faith Leaders need to talk about God’s heart for vulnerable children. Dedicate time in May–through sermons, social media, or a mid-week church family meeting–to talking about Foster Care and God’s heart for vulnerable children. Historically, the church has risen to similar challenges–creating hospitals and orphanages– in times of need. Today we know even more about creating healthy, restorative environments for children and families to find healing and wholeness. Foster care is the next missional frontier for the American Church to bring hope and healing to children and families. If your church hasn’t stepped into this space, now is the time.
To get you started, here’s 5 ways we can relationally engage children and families in the foster care community.
Please use the provided graphics and text on social media and newsletters to encourage your faith community and spur them to action. We would love to see these sprinkled throughout April and May for Child Abuse Prevention and Foster Care Awareness Months. Save the graphics, copy and paste the text. Use the hash tag #fostercare on social media platforms.
Foster Parent Training
Have you been thinking about becoming a foster family? NOW is the time to attend an information meeting. There is expected to be a huge influx of kids entering care this fall. Be ready. Being a foster certified family is hearing about something awful happening in your community and knowing you will be able to help. Here’s one place you can start: Prepare to Be A Foster Parent
Wrapping Around Foster Families Remotely
Do you know a foster family? Let’s do our part to care for and sustain them in this time. Check out America’s Kids Belong for ideas on how to “WRAP” around them relationally, while remaining physically distant.
Online Trauma Training
Faith communities have a great opportunity to provide hope and healing to those impacted by trauma, grief & loss, especially in the areas of foster care and adoption. They can also do harm if they have unrealistic expectations of those affected by trauma and loss. While America’s Kids Belong looks at trauma through a Foster/Adoption Lens, there is a global need for the church to understand and address loss and trauma associated with the COVID19 pandemic. This Trauma Training series will equip faith leaders in multiple ministry contexts.
COVID- 19 Foster Care Prayer Guide
Use this guide- COVID-19 FOSTER CARE PRAYER GUIDE– to pray for the people most impacted by COVID-19 in your foster care community.
Meet the Kids
Meet America’s children who are in need of an adoptive family. Share videos in hopes that just the right family will see. https://americaskidsbelong.org/videos-akb/
Check out more free Foster Care & Adoption Church Resources at Faith.AmericasKidsBelong.org