Right now, foster families are experiencing the same changes, loss of control and child care challenges that we all are. However, foster families are enduring the new normal while raising kids from hard places inside their own places of sanctuary - their homes.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many state’s courts are only hearing cases that are deemed an emergency or essential. That means upcoming court appearances — when custody and visitation were supposed to be addressed — are now postponed for months. This means potentially longer placements for foster families.
Their personal commitment to caring for their biological children in addition to our most vulnerable children is admirable. It’s become a dual load for most foster families, and many are overcommitted between work and home, exhausted, and over-stretched emotionally, physically, and financially.
This unexpected limbo can throw off even the most organized foster parents.
They need OUR help to carry the load, especially now.
-Reach out to a foster family you know, and offer to do some “Virtual Respite Care” over the computer: Read a book to their kids, do a craft, play a game, just chat. Give foster families a 30-minute break to recharge. Reaching out via video or a conferencing platform is a great way for kids to stay in touch and have a chance to socialize. Offering story time engages the children and gives the foster parents a much needed reprieve.
-When you go to the store, consider grabbing a few extras for a foster family and dropping a bag of groceries, cleaning supplies, and paper goods. They won’t have to go to the store and it can alleviate a bit of the financial strain.
-Put together a Goodie Bag with a few different activities and materials like Play-Doh, beads, puzzles, books, and art supplies. Drop off at a foster parent’s home or DCS office for them to distribute.
And with so many of us working remotely or choosing to stay home as much as possible, entertaining (and even educating) kids is now ten times as difficult. Not only are the kids getting stir crazy, but employees may need to be on that video conference. Consider sending something from this online Wish List: solid ideas for keeping the kids occupied — in a positive way.
Bicycle Playing Cards ($3.89; target.com)
Lego Classic Bricks and Houses Starter Set ($19.99; target.com)
Baketivity Kids Baking DIY Activity Kit ($29.99, originally $32.99; amazon.com)
Banana Panda Suuuper Size Animal Match Puzzle ($21.99; amazon.com)
3 Bees & Me Deluxe Magic Kit Set ($14.95, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
In this time of uncertainty, it’s impactful to support foster families and let them know, "You’ve got this, you can do this, it’s going to be okay and we’re here for you.”
Every day, even in a national crisis, foster parents can have a positive impact on the lives of children and create a bright future for youth that desperately need their support. And we can have a positive impact on them!