Your friend is having a baby?! Yippee! Time to celebrate! Throw a baby shower, pin and share cute nursery decorations, set up the meal train! But what do you do when your friend decides to foster and brings home multiple babies in a year? Or fosters older children? You want to help, but how to go about doing so isn’t always clear. Here are some practical tips for supporting the foster families in your life!
* Often times, there is little to no prep time when getting a new foster placement. Here are a few things a family might need:
– clothes in the child’s size
– help rearranging bedrooms
– bottles, diapers, formula
– portable crib
– suitcases for moving clothes back and forth
* Bring meals! I can’t tell you how crazy it is when you get a call at 3pm that you will be getting a placement within an hour. With all that it takes to add a child (or children!) to a home on short notice, meals mean one less thing to worry about.
* Create a safe place for the family to have all the feels.
The joy of having a child in their home to love and care for! The heartbreak of bearing the weight of what this child has been through. The uncertainty of what the future may hold. The combination of happiness and grief when a child is returned home.
* Respect the child’s privacy
Privacy requirements don’t allow foster parents to share much information with you, so please respect that. Often, we don’t have all of the details anyway, and we definitely don’t know how long he/she will be with us. Be sensitive to the fact that these questions can make for unsettling feelings in the foster parents.
Parenting is hard. Period. The added emotional weight of court dates, visits with family, and trauma- related behaviours can be exhausting. Offer to come to the house and watch the kids so the adults can grab a nap, grocery shop, or have a cup of coffee to decompress.
* Meals (again!)
Court dates and family planning team meetings can be long and emotional. Getting home to a meal from a friend at 6pm after being in the courthouse with children from 9am-5pm … it would be the greatest gift!