May is National Foster Care Month.
Let’s bless foster parents by recognizing their contribution and offering a little practical encouragement.
If you are or ever have been a foster parent, thank you.
Thank you for dedicating your heart, your time, and your family to being a safe, secure, nurturing environment for children unable to currently remain with their birth families.
The care and love you pour into vulnerable children and youth is invaluable. The impact you make, whether seen or unseen, is significant.
Chances are though, if you’re reading this article, you’re not a foster parent.
Yet you appreciate what they do. And you want to make an impact too.
You can. Just bless foster parents with one of the following ideas.
I know they’ll be grateful. I have been a foster parent. And I was blessed countless times by friends, acquaintances, even people I’d never met, who took time to demonstrate their support tangibly and practically.
10 Practical Ways to Bless Foster Parents
1. MAKE MEALS
If a friend gave birth to a baby, you’d make her family a meal, right? Bless foster parents with those meals too! Every placement, from infant to teen, can turn the family routines inside out for a while. Preparing a meal or two is a simple way to bless any foster family. And don’t restrict that blessing to the first couple weeks of placement. A delivery of your signature dish or an offer to order them pizza will be welcome any time.
2. RUN ERRANDS
Heading out to the grocery or nearest department store? Call the foster parents you know and ask what you can pick up for them. Offer to stop at additional stores. Huge blessing. Maybe even keep the receipt (like sprinkles on ice cream, absolutely not necessary, but an unexpected treat if you can swing it.)
Just say, “Hi, I’ve been thinking about you.” Let them know you support what they’re doing. Ask them how they’re doing. Share an encouraging Scripture verse. Ask what you can pray for and pray, right then and there, on the phone with them! Offer to do any of the other items on this list.
4. SHARE ITEMS
Cribs, carseats, clothing. Basketballs, baby swings, back packs or board books! Anything you used with your kids, a foster parent can use. Foster parents never know what age or stage the children entrusted to them will be. Any item in good condition that you no longer need can be a real blessing. But if they say they can’t use it, don’t drop it off! They don’t need to make extra trips to Goodwill.
Bring a smile, a hug and perhaps their favorite pastry or a bouquet of flowers or . . . a spare package of toilet paper. I’m not kidding; frills are lovely, but so are essentials! Best to let them know you’re coming, even if it’s just before you ring the doorbell (so they know you’re not an unannounced social worker – ahhh!). Stay 30 seconds, chat for 5 minutes or hang out for a couple hours – whatever fits the need of the moment. Be a blessing, not a burden. #9 can help with that!
6. INVEST IN THE KIDS
You will always bless foster parents when you’re interested in and willing to invest in the kids themselves. Smiles, encouraging words, conversations that show you care about who they are. Welcome them into your Sunday school class or community activities. Help your children be their friends. Remember, if they’re giving people around them a hard time, it probably means they’re having a hard time. Let them know you’re glad to have them around.
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40, ESV
The demands of foster parenting don’t always offer much chance for a break. Any amount of time you can spare would truly be a blessing. Let them go to appointments without extra kids in tow. Give them a date night to themselves. Offer mom a chance to shop for new clothes, meet a friend or have coffee out by herself. Or take the kids to the park so they can finish a project at home.
8. SPEAK LIFE
A smile and a kind word are always appropriate. Nothing makes any difficult job less burdensome than a little encouragement. Let them know their sacrifices are worth the effort. That they are making an eternal impact on lives that matter to God.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24, ESV
9. DO CHORES
Every parent has a lot to juggle. Foster parents have additional meetings, appointments, visits and challenges tossed in. Offering to do some household chores can relieve some of the pressure. Wash dishes, clean the bathroom, iron, mow the lawn, take out the trash. Whatever you’d love someone to do for you, do it for them.
10. EXTEND HOSPITALITY
Invite a foster family into your home or include them in your events. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just heart-felt. Need help with ideas? Friday pizza party. Sunday lunch. Picnic at the park. Trip to the zoo. Children’s birthday parties. Any invitation will be sincerely appreciated.
Okay, there are 11! Because even if you can’t do any of those other things, you can do this . . .
Never underestimate the opportunity you have to bless foster parents by praying for them. When a child is first placed in their home. After the “honeymoon” phase is over. During visits and appointments. When it’s time for a child to move on. Always. For their marriage. For their children. For wisdom, patience, endurance . . . for everything! Ask them how you can pray for them. Pray with them. Remind them you are praying for them.
One last thing . . .
Don’t ask a foster parent how you can help! Tell them what you want to do while leaving flexibility to accommodate their needs or schedule. “We want to have you over. Would Friday night or Sunday afternoon work better?” “I have a bunch of spare art supplies I’d like to give Katy if it’s okay with you.” “I’m free on Tuesday morning; I can come clean your bathroom or stay with the kids so you can go out.”
If you are interested in pursing foster care certification, you can find state specific foster care information here.
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