On the list of college senior year internships, the adoption agency placement jumped out at me. Twenty-eight years later, I’m still an adoption social worker with plenty of experience helping special foster parents and adoptive families. As a contract home study caseworker, I handle the initial in-home education and evaluation for families. Additionally, I do follow-up support and evaluation after placement for up to two years, depending on the child’s birth country.
Last year I began to co-lead the Foster Care and Adoption Advocacy at my church. Our area of focus is raising up wrap-around care for foster families and adoptive family.
What does that mean?
Everyone can move toward vulnerable children in our community and the families who love them. Foster care tends to feel scary and overwhelming. But what if you could go into it surrounded by tangible support — your own circle to hold you up — without becoming foster parents?
If becoming foster parents or adopting children is not something you can do, you can still impact the lives of foster kids in really simple and manageable ways.
Every community or person of faith can pray. In fact, contact me for a bookmark with daily prayer prompts for foster and adoptive families.
If you want to do more become more informed about the needs in our community. In this information age, updates, statistics, and resources are easily accessed to give greater understanding to what’s happening in Tarrant County.
Statistics show that more children die of abuse in Texas than in any other state. Unfortunately, Tarrant County’s incident rate is high on the list, comparing the five most populated counties, and the COVID-19 quarantine is bringing sharp increases in not only abuse cases, but death by abuse.
Everyone can become more educated.
Meet Small Tangible Needs
There are tangible things that can be done before a child gets removed. Go to www.careportal.org to learn more about this innovative new Texas online initiative that connects families in crisis with those willing to help in simple ways, such as meal delivery, furniture and car seat donation, and mentorship and transportation.
For children who have entered the system, become part of wrap-around care to the foster and adoptive families with meal delivery, or diaper and baby equipment delivery for these placements that often come in the middle of the night. Our church also has an Amazon Wishlist initiative so that families in the process of becoming licensed foster parents can express their needs for required items like child proofing equipment, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors.
Most people can offer tangible help such as Grub Hub gift cards for meals or a box of diapers.
Become a Volunteer
For anyone who may have time available, consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer. Similar to a foster parent, CASA volunteers are trained to become both a mentor to a child in care and a voice for them. Within the context of family members, teachers, day care providers, caseworkers, where changes often occur, the CASA volunteer is the steady influence on the child and speaks on the child’s best interest to the judges in these cases.
Babysit or Respite Care
Perhaps offering babysitting for foster kids might be a right fit for you.
Foster parents cannot leave their foster kids with anyone, even for a trip to the store, who is not a certified babysitter. This involves minimum training and allows for babysitting a foster child up to eight hours.
Foster parents can’t take a weekend off or travel out of state with their foster children. With a bit more training and evaluation, respite providers can be licensed to offer 72 hours of respite care, or with a bit more training and evaluation, up to two weeks of respite care. Our family is in the process of doing this for our friends. Becoming a respite provider or babysitter for a foster family you know is a great way to show them support.
Babysitting and respite care is an invaluable way to “foster” on a part-time basis.
Everyone Can Do Something
Some people are able to become foster parents. But, if not, then you can become a babysitter or respite provider for them. If you can’t do that, consider becoming a CASA volunteer. If that’s too much, move toward the need by becoming wrap-around care to families in crisis, foster families, and adoptive parents.
If that’s not where you are yet, become more educated on the needs and pray for vulnerable children and families.
Consider all of these options as avenues to step toward the needs of the vulnerable in our own backyard.
Check out Fort Worth Moms Facebook Neighbor Group Adoptive Moms Tarrant County Area to find community, resources, and more.