May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of foster care and acknowledging foster parents. Fostering children from hard places can be a challenge, and foster parents need their support team as they navigate the rough waters of caring for these children. This month is also a great time to check in on your support team responsibilities. If your foster family received a child or sibling group today, would you know the next steps in supporting them?
Based on the needs of the newly forming family, your team should decide who will be fulfilling which tasks in the first days of your family receiving a new placement. Praying for a smooth transition for both the children and parents should be a priority for everyone, but who will chair the meal team (http://www.mealtrain.com)? Who will help with finding a bed or safety gate? Who is on call to run errands that first week after the kiddos arrive so the new family can focus on getting settled? Who will investigate community resources depending on the age of the children? Who will serve as the point person for the team?
Is Your Team Prepared?
Use this checklist to access the health of your support team. Where needed, apply suggested remedies to keep your team- and family- healthy and strong!
1. A team member has checked in this month to determine how family members are doing.
Rx: Make sure a team member calls or stops by within the next 24 hours.
2. All support team members are updated with the family and respond to needs.
Rx: Send a team update and ask team members to share how they’re involved.
3. The communication system is working, and the support team is “in the loop.”
Rx: Improve communication with a private Facebook page, text, or phone tree. Hold a team meeting to reconnect and reorganize.
4. The team is anticipating upcoming family needs.
Rx: Brainstorm what the family might be experiencing in the coming months and how the team can prepare to help. Is the child heading into adolescence? Is school starting soon? Are there any changes like a child moving to live with a relative or adoption finalization on the horizon?
5. Respite and childcare are being provided, so parents have time to refresh and regroup.
Rx: Organize weekly breaks for parents. Organize consistent respite care for a struggling child.
6. New team members are being added to help with unmet needs.
Rx: Explore with family who else could be a part of the team.
7. Team members know how to pray and pray regularly for the family.
Rx: Designate a prayer leader to gather prayer requests from family members and communicate to team members.
8. Support team members feel neither consistently overwhelmed nor underutilized.
Rx: Shift responsibilities or add new team members as needed.