February 26, 2024

How Can I Support my Friend/Family Member that is Fostering?

 

Do you have friends who are fostering and you are wondering how you can support them? Or maybe your family member is a foster parent and you are not sure what would be helpful? Perhaps you would like to support children in foster care, but the timing is not right for you to become a foster parent yourself? Being a foster family is rewarding, but it is also difficult. Having supportive family and friends makes a huge difference! Sometimes it is hard to know how to support a foster family, so here are five ways you can support your friend or family member who is fostering.

  1. Bring a meal - Taking the foster family a meal allows the family to focus on the children instead of worrying about dinner. This can be especially helpful when a family has a new placement, but would be welcomed anytime (who doesn’t appreciate a night off cooking!) Children in foster care often have many appointments, which can make preparing dinner tricky. Drop off a freezer meal, have a pizza delivered, send a restaurant gift card, or bring a hot meal!
  2. Offer to babysit or provide respite - Respite is a great way for a foster parent to recharge. Offer to have the child over for a playdate at your house, or see if you can babysit to give the foster parent(s) a night out. Or, become a respite foster parent and provide overnight care for children. Check with your local Nightlight office for your state’s requirements to become a respite provider. Being a respite foster parent is also a great way to be involved in the fostering community if you are not able to foster full time.
  3. Become trauma-informed - Support the foster family by learning about trauma and how it impacts children. Consider learning Trust Based Relational Intervention strategies or another trauma-informed parenting approach. Be flexible with the foster family when plans change and understand when something needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of the child in foster care.
  4. Pray and encourage - One of the biggest ways you can support foster families is by praying for them and encouraging them. Pray for the foster family, the children in foster care, and for their biological families. Let the foster family know that you are praying for them, and encourage them in what they are doing to care for children in foster care. Check-in with the family regularly and remind them that you are there to support them.
  5. Just do something! - While asking the family “What can I do?” can be helpful for some families, other times it can be hard for the family to know what to ask for. Instead of asking what you can do, just do something! Text the family and say you are going to bring a meal one day that week, and ask what day would be best. Or, call on your way to the store and ask what you can bring the family. Offer to do the family’s laundry or mow their lawn. Offer something specific, and then follow through!

It takes a village to raise a child, and this is especially true with foster care. Know that anything you do to support a foster family will be appreciated!

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