Church Support for Fostering Families

How you church can virtually care for vulnerable children and the families you serve?


Thank you for being a church that supports fostering and kinship families (fostering families) and the children in them. In this unique time of quarantine, isolation, limited childcare options, and home schooling your fostering families may be struggling more than usual. We have a unique opportunity to serve our families and children even though we can’t physically be present. Let’s remember, one of the main reasons fostering families stop is due to the isolation they feel in their journey.

At the moment, the added stress everyone in the household is experiencing could mean more fears and triggers for children, resulting in escalated behaviour. In addition to all the other shutdowns, respite care and contact with birth families has ceased. This means fostering families are not receiving their regular breaks, children are not seeing birth family and may be worrying about them, and all routines are gone.

Now more than ever, our fostering families need our love and support!

Just as the church in Australia has stepped up in creative ways to support its members, we also need to be creative in how we serve our fostering families so they feel our love and encouragement as they navigate isolation with children who have experienced trauma. Our goal is to make sure placements can remain stable and no disruptions occur.

Below are some ideas for how to support these families. Please always follow the highest level of safeguarding to protect yourselves, your volunteers, and the children and families you serve. No one should ever put themselves or others at any kind of risk. Follow all the most updated recommendations by the Australian Government by your state in which you reside. Extra caution is always advised. All serving is at the discretion of the supported family being served and the volunteer. Err on the side of over-communicating in order to maintain the highest sense of safety possible.

IN ADDITION TO ANY HEALTH AND STATE GUIDELINES, USE COMMON SENSE WHEN SERVING:

· Do not engage in any in-person service (even dropping off) if you are not feeling well.

· Do not engage in any in-person service (even dropping off) if you have been in proximity or contact with someone who has the virus or who has been ill. Practice self-quarantine.

· Avoid making any contact when serving families, keeping a 1.5m distance.

· Wash your hands well and often.

SERVING SUPPORTED FAMILIES:

· Pray with fostering families, ask them their prayer needs and ask your church to pray for them.

· Pray with children living in the fostering families, pray protection and hope over them.

· Can someone from your church set up video calls with each of your fostering or kinship families to check in on them personally.

· Can someone from your children’s or youth ministry team call the child in the home and check in with them, pray with them, encourage them with a worship song.

· Schedule these check-ins every 1-3 weeks, depending on how the family is coping.

· Refer them to online resources such as Chosen.care and Australian Childhood Foundation where they can get online help specific to raising children with trauma.

· Empathise with your parents since a change in routine can trigger behaviour changes in children who have experienced trauma.

· Ensure your carers are connected in with Fostering Hope or other carers also going through the same situation.

ENCOURAGEMENT

· Send texts, emails, and virtual cards every few days.

· Offer to help with utilities or medical costs.

· Order or drop off supplies like diapers, crafts, or games.

· Gift an online program or streaming service.

· Purchase gift cards matching families’ needs.

· Provide gift cards for supplies or fun things for kids.

· Utilise an online delivery service such as UberEats or provide a gift card for these or any other kind of meal delivery or restaurant take-out.

· Offer to do the grocery shopping or to pick up groceries ordered online and deliver to the driveway or front porch.

MENTORS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

At the moment, our mentors cannot meet with young people in care. So encourage them to,

· Help with tutoring or schooling online using Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.

· Play games together online.

· Read stories to children online.

· Teach new skills online: things such as baking, making crafts, playing an instrument, singing songs, telling jokes, magic tricks, etc.

· Provide gift cards for supplies or fun things for kids.

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