How to help kids in foster care without being a foster parent
When children arrive to a foster home, their world has been shattered and they are experiencing the effects of trauma and neglect.
Foster parents are charged with putting their world back together—reassuring the child(ren) of their safety and stability by providing a nurturing place for them to call home. In addition, foster parents are responsible to schedule and attend doctor, therapist, court, and parental visitation appointments plus maintain the day-to-day demands of caring for the basic needs of their family.
Children that are in foster care are hurting due to struggles that most of us cannot fathom. It is important that foster families have what they need to care for these little hearts and souls.
Teams of professionals are summoned to help the biological family address their barriers and needs, but few resources exist to support the foster family with the same care and attention. This is where we are called to help.
How can we help foster families in our community?
As a church community, we can help in many little ways that add up to make a big difference.
10+ ways to help kids in foster care without being a foster parent
Connect. Check in. Be an ear. Ask how you can support the foster family. Pray for them. Send an encouraging message or an uplifting Bible passage.
Provide Reprieve. Offer your time to assist with homework hour, read to the children, or provide occasional childcare so that the foster family can rest and recharge.*
Offer a “date night.” Provide the foster parent(s) with a gift card to a local restaurant for an extra treat on those rare nights off or sponsor a weekend marriage retreat.
Be a spiritual support. Care for foster children during worship services and Bible study classes. Doing this provides an opportunity for foster families to be in the Word.
Provide monetary assistance for educational opportunities. Foster parent education trainings, national conferences, and support groups all offer invaluable mentoring and encouragement, yet many foster parents must pay out-of-pocket to attend them. Get a group of friends together and cover the cost of an education training or conference for a foster parent.
Mentor a foster child. Offer to host an afternoon of cookie-making fun or crafting for foster kids. You can also go to the park, play catch, or do any other child-led activity. Look for opportunities to share the love of Jesus, and God will give you the words to say.*
Focus on the needs of the biological children. It’s hard to share mom and dad when you’re a biological child in a foster family. Reach out and plan some time to connect with the biological children as well. Something as simple as a special trip out for ice cream or an afternoon playdate can show them that they are also loved.
Bring a meal. Nothing shows love like a home-cooked meal! Offer to drop off dinner for a family to relieve the stress on the busiest night of the week. Don’t cook? Ask for the grocery list or offer to drop off the essentials like milk and fresh fruits and veggies.
Get a group of friends together to cook a meal for a foster family in your area.
Be their “hands and feet.” Offer an hour or two to help with household chores. Mow the lawn (or shovel the snow!). Clean windows. Scrub the toilet. Or even pick up the laundry and return it folded. Whatever helps!
Sponsor activity fees or tuition. Pay for an activity such as swimming lessons, music lessons, dance class, summer camp, or even contribute to a scholarship fund on behalf of a foster family for religious school tuition expenses.
Offer to be a “taxi.” Drive foster and/or biological children to activities, to/from school, etc. Provide a ride for youth activities or Vacation Bible School events at your church.
Provide beds and bedding. Build or buy bunk beds to help foster families gain the needed space to keep siblings together. Provide a new bedding set to welcome foster children.
Gather clothing, baby items, or other needs. Gather new or gently-used clothing or other baby items when a foster family welcome a new child. Children also often need the basics like backpacks, underwear, socks, and shoes.
Organize an outreach activity at your church. Provide a foster parent night out babysitting event at your church or host a dinner for local foster families. You can promote it through your local foster care agency.
Be an ambassador to start a Family Care Team in your congregation. Start the discussion at your church about the opportunity to care for foster families and how to help kids in foster care in your own community. Offer to coordinate a Family Care Team to support a foster family as they open their home to vulnerable children in need of love and care. The Kingdom Workers Foster Support Program is here to help. Encourage others to join you in supporting a foster family. Many little efforts make a big difference!
Pray! Pray for foster children that they may be granted a connection to a loving, Christian home where they are reassured that God loves them and cares for them deeply. Pray that God will guide these little ones as they work through the hurt of their past and present circumstance. Pray for the vigor and endurance of foster families to provide nurturing and hope for the children in their care. Pray for the biological children of foster parents that they may see their value their family’s mission to provide for children in need. Pray for the professionals who are working tirelessly to repair broken homes. Pray for biological families to have the resources and strength needed to resolve their barriers and provide for the best interests of their children. Pray for our communities to hear the call to come alongside our foster care systems to provide support in any way they need.
You, your family, and your church can play a very important role in providing life-changing support. Not everyone will be able to foster or be a foster parent, but everyone can be a part of making sure that no abused or neglected child goes without a loving support system in their time of need. God has given us the opportunity to share Jesus with the hurting world through a partnership with our foster families. Will you join us?
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Kara Witthuhn is a Foster Support Coordinator at Kingdom Workers. Kara has 19 years of child welfare experience providing education and support services to families and children that have experienced abuse or neglect. She is looking forward to the blessings that God will provide in this mission to connect volunteer teams with foster families in our communities nationwide. You can learn more about Kara’s work and how to support it here.
*Kingdom Workers always recommends being with the child/ren in a public place. Foster parents receive training regarding babysitters and are ultimately responsible for the people they pick.