Supporting Foster Families in Our Community

When a state social worker recognizes the possibility that a child is being neglected or abused, or that the child’s parents are just unable to care for the child, they must find a safe place for that child.  What better place than a family who is willing to show God’s love to them unconditionally?  This is what foster care is.  

Children can be taken into state custody for a variety of reasons, but in all cases, it is a trauma for these children that is a result of the sin and brokenness of our world.  As God’s people, we have an incredible opportunity to offer these children stability, comfort, care, and through all these things His unconditional love, until these children can be reunited with their families.  Foster care is a ministry of healing, restoration, and reconciliation. It is a beautiful image of the gospel and what Jesus has done for us.

God’s Word tells us in James 1:27, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”.  This tells us taking care of those who cannot care for themselves is an important part of His Kingdom work. These words are for all of us…not just foster families!  But what does that mean for each one of us as individual members of His body?  Certainly, it can mean welcoming children into our homes when they cannot be cared for by their own families.  But this is a big financial, physical, and emotional commitment.  Those willing to serve as foster families for these children need support themselves.  This means we can ALL play a part in supporting the ministry of foster care!

So what can our church families do to serve those who have opened their homes to this ministry?  How can we make sure these families FEEL supported by the church?  We can start by telling them that the church is behind them, asking how we can pray for them, and making sure their needs are prayed over.  If your church has a prayer list or prayer gatherings, be sure the needs of the foster families you support are included in these and lifted up!

We can also come alongside them in their work by helping them assemble the resources they need for the children in their care.  Foster placements are often made with little warning…sometimes in the middle of the night even!  Overnight a foster family may have a new placement and all of a sudden need a car seat, clothes, formula, diapers, wipes, toiletries, school supplies, or shoes.  Every placement can be different, so the need can be different with each placement.  Ask your foster families what their needs are.  But also be aware that families with new placements may not know everything they need right away, so offer to meet specific needs, and be sure to follow up each day in that first week to see what other needs have arisen.

Foster families need a lot of support those first few days, but there’s a lot we can do to support foster families for the long haul too.  You can host CPR certification classes at your church to certify church and community members as babysitters for foster children so that foster parents can have a break.  Even better, arrange “Parents Night Out” or similar events especially for foster families.  You can help foster families manage things around their home by helping with lawn care or home and auto maintenance.  Stock a supply pantry!  Host a foster parent support group or continuing education sessions!

When we love and support the foster families in our community, we are engaging directly into our Father’s Kingdom work and we are empowering these foster families to change the lives of hurting children and their families.  Please prayerfully consider how you and your congregation can help foster families to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

Author: Mackenzie Blair and her family have been foster parents for 7 years. They are active members of Colonial Heights Baptist Church and support other foster parents throughout the Jackson metro area.