Aah! April! It teases us with sunshine and drenches us in precipitation (at least in a good year). We love the hope that rain and snow bring: the green, the new growth, the flowing rivers and filled-up reservoirs, all waiting for us on the other side of the puddles and drifts. Sometimes it’s hard to embrace hope in the middle of a storm.
At times, that's what being a foster or adoptive family is like. There's so much hope for growth and restoration. Simultaneously there’s trauma behaviors, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation. During a season of grief and loss, a Project 1.27 kinship parent recently shared that she didn’t need encouragement, she just needed to know people were sitting with her. This is where YOU come in as “her” support team. You don’t need all the answers, sometimes the family you're supporting just wants someone to pull up a chair and sit.
It’s time for March Madness! This past year has felt like madness to many of us. In recent months, most foster families have experienced unprecedented challenges related to systems, resources, and trauma. They need support team players like YOU now more than ever! There are many players on your foster family’s team, and their social worker/case manager is an MVP (Most Valuable Player) we want to recognize in March!
March is Social Worker Appreciation Month and a great time to get involved to support and encourage the social workers in your community!
Social workers are the “point guards” found in child welfare, non-profits, schools, hospitals, and businesses. Here are some fun & COVID-19 conscious ideas to show appreciation for the social workers working hard to care for the vulnerable in your community:
February is a great time to show love to the foster or adoptive family you support. God showed his love by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him (1 John 4:9). As our Father showed His great love in action, through Jesus, we too can say, “ I love you" through our actions! Try some of these fun and meaningful ways to say, “I love you!”
For a Child
It makes such a difference for foster and adoptive families to know they have a caring support team around them! Anytime is the perfect time to say "I love you" by doing something thoughtful to show your support!
January is a great time to make a resolution that will provide ongoing support, encouragement and care to the foster or adoptive family you serve. Resolve to pray for your family daily, check in with them regularly and offer a unique & COVID friendly gift of support every month of the coming year! Use our list or create one that fits the unique needs of the family you support!
2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, and many challenges remain ahead. For foster families and children, managing day to day life in combination with navigating the complexities of a child welfare case under the umbrella of a pandemic leaves them weary, stretched thin, and exhausted. There is always value in reaching out and asking for help, however, sometimes families may not be aware of the help they need or take time to ask. As we approach the holiday season in a hard year, perhaps one of the most meaningful ways you can honor the generosity and care that often characterizes Christmas is to proactively see and meet the needs of your foster or adoptive family.
See a need for caregiver self-care? Self care requires a lot of creativity right now, as many typical outlets are not available. Do you have an hour or two you could set aside every month to be a resource to the family for whatever they need? For example, you could offer two hours of childcare on the first Sunday of every month while the foster parents take time to fill their cup with a favorite self-care activity.
See a need for resources? Before running your errands, ask your foster family what you can pick up for them. Organize a small grocery delivery with pantry staples and favorite snacks. Offer to pick up any prescriptions the child may have, or order a delivery of diapers and wipes. The possibilities for tangible ways to take one thing off a family’s plate are endless!
See a need for connection? With so many families struggling to keep their heads above water while managing a myriad of daily tasks and responsibilities, isolation is occuring. Does your family need a lifeline of connection thrown their way? Host a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt around the neighborhood with hot chocolate in hand, exchange Christmas cards with meaningful and encouraging notes attached, or send a quick text to tell the family you prayed over them.reminds the family that they are not alone.
See an opportunity to offer your talents? Do you have a keen eye for photography? Take some updated family portraits. Do you have a background in teaching? Tutor a child or help them with virtual school. Are you crafty? Put together activity kits to help keep the kids occupied. Think about the things you love and are good at, and offer those to the foster family.
See an opportunity to offer your time? Families have more time together than ever, and while that is a gift, the absence of childcare and normal social support leaves caregivers wearing too many hats. Perhaps you could keep the child busy by offering to play a virtual game together, tuning in to one of the many webcam experiences offered by zoos, museums, performing arts, or taking the child out for a walk around the park. This will give parents a few moments to regroup and organize the household.
See an opportunity to celebrate? Christmas is still the perfect time to spread joy and cheer. Grabbing a coffee? Send your foster family a text asking for their coffee order. Host a multi-family door-decorating competition and decorate each other’s front doors. Share pictures of each other’s Christmas trees and favorite ornaments. Organize a Christmas book swap and exchange your favorite holiday classics. Surprise decorate a family’s front lawn. Go out of your way to show kindness and thoughtful gestures; they mean more now than ever!
What a year this has been! The holidays will be here before we know it. While we hope all families experience a time of celebration and joy, even during this difficult season, the holidays can be a difficult time for foster and adoptive children. The holidays tend to bring up many triggers, questions and tough emotions for children to navigate. Below are some ideas for supporting children during this time.
September is a month to recognize all kinship providers who stepped into an important gap to care for children experiencing abuse and neglect. In circumstances where a child is not able to safely remain with their parent, kinship providers are the first choice for placement to minimize the trauma of removal. Kinship care is defined as a relative or non-relative adult with an existing bond to the child, who agrees to provide care to the child during a dependency and neglect case. This allows children to preserve family and community connections, making kinship providers an invaluable resource. While kinship care is a gift to helping children cope with the challenges of removal and maintain a sense of familiarity, it also can be a difficult situation for families to be in. Kinship providers often find themselves in the middle, torn between a system working to protect the child who has been harmed, and preserving their relationship with the family member responsible for the abuse. Kinship families may also find their own life plans, safety, or privacy interrupted; or be financially strained in providing for another child. In honor of celebrating the hard work of kinship parents with consideration to the many complexities it presents, below are some ways to show your family love and support this month and always.
Many children who have experienced trauma are triggered by transitions. This can be difficult to help a child manage because transitions are a part of everyday life in ways big and small. In responding to transition triggers, a child may show behaviors that range from mild protesting to a severe meltdown. Fortunately, there are many ways that caregivers can help predict and prepare for these circumstances to help a child have an easier time moving from one task to the next. Over time, children may come to learn the mechanisms that work for them, ultimately decreasing the length and severity of behavioral responses and increasing their ability to make positive behavioral changes. Feeling successful in this way is a powerful tool to helping kids heal from trauma and build positive relationships. During a time when transitions are more constant than ever, this is an invaluable gift to give to your child. Below are some suggestions on how to help a child build confidence in addressing their transition triggers.
Create a routine: Think about the main components that make up the child’s day and have a predictable structure in place. Organized activities, such as bedtime, are great to have in place for all ages. As your child progresses to be reassured by this structure, understand that maintaining consistency is key. For example, children who have experienced trauma may not be able to developmentally understand why one night they got a later bedtime and the next they did not.
The impact of COVID-19 continues to present new challenges for foster children and families experiencing the child welfare system. For children who have endured trauma, building and maintaining a structured environment they can count on is hard fought work by foster parents. The pandemic has resurfaced or exacerbated feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty with foster children already in an unfathomable situation. Now that we are several months into navigating a world turned upside down, take a moment to use the questions below to check in with yourself and the foster or adoptive family you support to encourage good mental, spiritual and emotional health.
What am I grateful for? The practice of gratitude is a powerful tool in finding joy even in the most difficult circumstances. Take a few minutes at the beginning of every day to list three things you are thankful for. This practice postures you to start the day with a glad heart.
This time of year, families are usually registering for summer camps and checking community activity calendars with great excitement, looking forward to the Summer months ahead. This year, the impact of COVID-19 means Summer will look different. As families continue making the necessary adjustments there are still many opportunities to creatively engage kids in ways that bring joy and fun. Below are some suggestions that will keep kids busy, create happy memories and build strong connections, all of which are vital in developing healthy, resilient families.
Porch drop offs: Kids love surprise gifts! Porch drop offs can be a great way to bring the fun and a change of pace. Create a bag of items like coloring sheets or puzzle books, sensory objects, water toys, summer treats and an age-appropriate craft project. Consider porch swapping puzzles, games and toys between households as you feel comfortable.
Cupcake Wars: Have one or more families set up a place where kids can get messy and host a virtual baking party. Drop off vanilla frosting, decorating supplies and cupcake batter. Have each kid use two ingredients from the pantry to create personalized flavors. (For younger kids, pre-make different flavors of cupcakes and frosting.) Let kids be as creative as their hearts’ desire with fondant, candy toppings, melted chocolate, cookies, and piping bags full of fun colors. Designate a judge to determine the winner of the decorating competition, have kids share about their personalized flavors, and enjoy the yummy results together.