Week 3: More Than Enough What? Part 2

More Than Enough Essentials Fall 2020 Week 3: More Than Enough What? Part 2

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    • #72342
      [email protected]
      CAFO Staff

      Consider this quote by Dan and Chip Heath: “What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.” What are some things that come to mind about supporting families that may be clear to “foster care folks” like yourself, but may be unclear and overwhelming to a person who has had minimal or no experience with foster care or with raising children from hard places?

    • #72789
      [email protected]
      Participant

      I have learned that being detailed in any request is helpful.  For example:

      We have a foster family in need of a toddler size bed.  Contact _____ if you have a lead.

      Can you deliver a meal to :____________ on this date:_______.

      If people know exactly what needs are, the success rate of assistance increases.

      Many people want to help but do not know how.  The “let me know if you need something” can be very over used, but also sincere.  Sometimes as a foster family, we need to be vulnerable as a human and ask for what is needed for the child and/or for our family to care for the children well.  When we welcomed 2 little boys 1 year ago, we had a few random needs and I asked via fb.  I’m so thankful that we had a beautiful response.

       

    • #72790
      Maren Vallerand
      Participant

      I agree! The question “How can we help?” is not always helpful 🙂 By suggesting specific, practical things (meals, childcare, transportation, etc.) you remove some potential awkwardness and allow for an easier “YES!”

      It has also been helpful for us to hone in on our vision and what we believe is possible, as well as to specify what we do as a ministry. (And what we don’t do!) We are honest about the (big) vision we have, and we try to have a few, clear on-ramps for people to jump into the work. We try to keep it simple and provide LOTS of learning opportunities.

    • #72791
      [email protected]
      Participant

      Maren, I love your visual words “on-ramps”.  Perfectly said!  Ease them into it all. Don’t just push them out into traffic wondering what way to go.  Right?? 🙂

      As we run our nonprofit, Hope Pkgs, and people begin to volunteer and donate items for kids 1st night bags, my hope is to feed them a bit more info.  To maybe help them make a bit bigger step to being involved.  Baby steps, little bites.

      • #72900
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Lisa, this can be a great first step! You post makes me think of what Lesli was saying about having clear pathways forward already laid out for those ready to take that step.

    • #72849
      McKenzie Hutton
      Participant

      One of the unique challenges that our resource parents often speak about is involvement with multiple service providers to include DCS, the licensing agency, CASA, therapy providers, visit facilitators, medical providers, etc. There are SO MANY appointments and providers to keep up with. Of course, each entity is providing a needed service for the child, but it can be overwhelming for resource parents. Assistance with after-school pick up and transportation can be so very helpful! If families are unable to provide direct support, gas cards or restaurant gift cards are always appreciated also.

       

      Regarding support for birth families and kinship families, there are often many opportunities to meet tangible needs, if we are just willing to ask. For example, a few families  from our church community assisted an older couple with several home renovation projects to better prepare the physical environment for the couple’s grandchildren who were planning to transition to their care.

      • #72898
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I can remember and relate to all the transportation needs! Helping connect folks to help with this need could be huge!

    • #72850
      Tina Jones
      Participant

      I used to hesitate giving specific examples of ways to volunteer thinking it would limit people’s thinking to the items listed, but I’ve found that it is best to be specific – as mentioned above.   But don’t hesitate to add, “If you have another talent or way you feel called to serve, please speak up! Somebody probably needs what you have to offer.”

      • #72899
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Sometimes its fun to ask people to give in specific ways too – I know you are great at X, would you be available to help a foster family at our church do X? Being a connector to help people see their own potential, and to help the foster parents to not bear the burden of asking.

    • #72853
      Jamie Bleakley
      Participant

      There are several foster families that I am associated with that are just living our ordinary lives together. Having a group of people that have had the same joys and pains and understand the frustrations is a huge support. I have had conversations about beginning the fostering journey with a number of people and I always let them know that there is support and help. It is the most heart-wrenching, emotionally draining thing I have ever done but by far it is also the most rewarding and God-blessed job I have ever done. I feel that our systems tends to do a lot of down-playing and sugar coating just to get placements which is a disservice to all involved. People need to know that this is hard but worth it.

    • #72858
      Daina Davis
      Participant

      I think that people often feel overwhelmed and can’t imagine inviting more challenge into their lives because they don’t know what will happen and don’t have clarity as to how this could affect them and their family. It’s hard to welcome challenge with open arms even if it is a part of a calling. I think it takes trust of God’s provision and support and an openness to that in order to jump in as a “leap of faith”. It’s unclear what will happen and many times we don’t have the answers to what it will look like if you take in a child or connect with a family in a very real way. We, as a part of a ministry, can prepare and have support available but ultimately it’s a trust that God has set us apart and anointed those who answer His call on their lives and He will never leave or forsake them and it’s so important to be connected to that promise. Fear of the unknown met with faith in a firm foundation allows for perfect love to cast out fear. And I think it is important for these to be discipleship opportunities where we open our lives in a real and honest way and let God use us to show hope in hard places. We have clarity into God’s hope in hard places because we’ve been there and experienced it. I think it’s important for us to share that testimony in order to provide clarity to those who haven’t gone that deep yet.

    • #72859
      Julia DesCarpentrie
      Participant

      Reframing support into smaller pieces and also inspire vision and help them imagine how they can be a part.

      Instead of “Can you babysit?” we ask “Would you like to be the fun ‘aunt and uncle’ and take the kids out for ice cream while this couple sneaks away for a date?” or “Here is an opportunity to invest in precious children’s lives and practice grandparenting!” But also educate on how to love kids from ‘hard places.’

      “Making a casserole tonight?  Could you double the ingredients and drop one off at a foster home?”

      And invite support families or individuals to ‘do life’ with you by inviting them to go on an outing to the zoo with your family, watch a soccer game, take a walk in the park together.

      • #72897
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I really like how this approach invites relationship with the family: parents and child and even sets the stage for future ice cream dates too! Very wise to frame it this way!

    • #72860
      Deborah West
      Participant

      It often seems that people who have never fostered think they have to do something BIG in order to be supportive of foster families. They dismiss the power of what they consider small things in the lives of those in the trenches. When someone asks how they can help and I say “the Smith’s need their yard raked or could use a meal,” they often reply, “yeah but I want to REALLY help them!” They’re missing the magnitude of a simple act of kindness. So we started comparing the “little” things to that one Jenga block that’s keeping everything stable. That frozen lasagna or free car wash or Target gift card can often be the very BIG thing God uses to restore some balance in the midst of parenting kids from hard places. If you haven’t lived it that sounds really dramatic, but if you have, you know that small thing was really the BIG thing because it reminds you that you’re not rebuilding the wall by yourself.

       

      • #72896
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I LOVE the Jenga block reference! And now I am imagining Jenga centerpieces and challenges at trainings…:) What a great illustration of the importance of ‘small’ things.

        If you were to ask me to list all the things people did to help me while we were foster parents, and what stands out to me…I would point to my friend Lisa, who came to my house to watch the kids while I ran an errand last minute, and folded ALL MY LAUNDRY. Real tears of joy. It took her 30 minutes, but 8 years later I remember.

    • #72862
      Amy Pettit
      Participant

      I have found that being specific with requests is important.  It also encourages someone to fill the need more quickly.  I have also found that it is important to have the foster family be specific as well.  For example, if they could really use a meal, ask for it.  If they could really use a date night, ask for the specific night and time frame they would need the babysitter for.

      The thing I seem to hear the most is, “it would just be too hard to deal with.  I do not think I could handle the emotions”.  What most of them do not realize is that it isn’t all hard.  There are good stories that come out of it too.  While there are hard things to experience or hear from foster care, the good moments make up for it.  The hug from the child that just came into care because you gave them their first new dress, the “thank you” because their belly is finally full, and just their smiles and laughter soften the hard stuff.

      • #72895
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Agreed Amy. I wouldn’t trade the hugs to take away the heartache.

    • #72863
      Jason Grewe
      Participant

      I actually just mentioned this to my campus pastor yesterday morning. I don’t think the church has a lack of compassion, or in some cases awareness of the need – they just don’t know how to tactfully address the need. Some may feel pushy. Some may feel like they are intruding. In other instances, foster families may feel uncomfortable asking for help.

      It takes a Nehemiah to put the pieces together and organize it.

    • #72864
      Jason Grewe
      Participant

      I agree. I think specific requests or ideas are important. Kind of like setting “SMART” goals – Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. I am not sure the average person who is participating has to go through that – but the one who is organizing it should at least consider the different aspects. With respect to Measurable – it is more about “what do you want to measure” more than “quantity”, when it comes to this context though – in my opinion.

    • #72866
      Ryan Keith
      Participant

      Respite is always confusing to people; “didn’t they ask for those kids to be in their home?” This could make foster families feel guilty, press forward alone, and then possibly end in a disruption. I’m still trying to help figure out how to share this news with people, but one thing that is working is reaching out to families who were once foster parents and respite is something they can do, without being full-time. Recently, a former foster family provided respite for a kinship family, who was about to lose it. It’s been a difficult journey. All felt like the weekend was a big win, with fresh wind in the sails for each. Little things matter.

      • #72890
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I had to be prodding into accepting respite help with some of my children. And I have found myself prodding others, because it was such a huge help to our family. I would (actually out loud sometimes) have to tell myself that just because we are called, just because we are doing what is right, does not mean that it will be easy. And it does not mean we have to do it alone.

    • #72885
      [email protected]
      Participant

      This actually came up this weekend while camping with some friends. We were talking about some medical updates and therapy updates about our foster child and one of our friends commented that they could never become a foster parents and would rather leave that task up to people like my husband and I. I mentioned to the friend that fostering would not be possible with their support of babysitting, vacationing together, planning play-dates and other children’s activities. Our friend who has been with us through our entire foster care experience, had no idea how their family has assisted us and our foster placements. I think many friends, families, and community members do not realize their assistance to “foster care folks” because they have the simple idea that the only way to help foster care, if to foster children.

      • #72889
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        This makes me think of Lesli Reece talking about celebrating ALL the seats on the bus. Sometimes its the ‘little’ things that make all the difference in a parent feeling seen and supported.

    • #72886
      Kristin Langrehr
      Participant

      I always go back to relationship! We can do all the education and awareness in the world, but until you KNOW “foster care folks”, but won’t truly understand the unique needs and challenges that come with caring for kids from hard places. I’m a social worker by profession and there were still so many things I didn’t understand clearly until I stepped into parenting myself! Now I can speak to my friends and family from personal experience, and through relationship, they become more informed and empathetic to the plight of these families, and as a result, provide more compassionate and effective support!

      • #72888
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I am a former teacher and I always say that being a teacher before I was a parent informed my parenting and then being a parent informed my teaching right back. It is absolutely a different level of ‘getting it’.

        So many things come back to relationship! One of the things we were most nervous about at the beginning of our foster care journey was how our friends and family would handle the big changes in our lives- but they were great and they walked alongside us and were willing to learn and change and love.

    • #72887
      [email protected]
      Participant

      I feel that what has become clear to me, that I didn’t realize before I started working with foster families, is that I operated under the assumption that all kids see the world the same way, namely, as a safe place. As I talk with friends who are outside of foster communities they think that all come from safe places, and are well adapted, and if the child has maladaptive behavior, then they are just acting out to get attention. The more I learn about trauma and it’s effects on children in foster care, the more my perspective on this changes.

      • #72893
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Thanks for sharing John! I have had many moments of realization that the world is not how I always imagined it to be, and all children are not the same, and all situations are not the same, especially with trauma.

    • #72941
      Chris Schutter
      Participant

      When God began stirring our hearts towards kids aging out of foster care, our only experience was observing actual foster families.  We quickly realised that if we were to do the job of advocating for foster care in our community, we had better learn as much as we could.  We have read books, talked to those in the trenches, developed relationships with DHHS and  bridge organizations, and have been careful to really LISTEN to those who have the knowledge and experience.

      We invited all of the foster care (current and former/many have adopted) families to a lunch providing child care and finding out from THEM what were the biggest needs and challenges.  Wrap-around support was #1 and we have a plan in place as one of our families was just licensed and have agreed to be our “test subjects” for a new community care program.

      We have actually experienced the opposite of resistence…people want to help – they just don’t know what to do.  Advice like keep it simple and break it down into managable pieces is totally working 🙂

      We decided our congregation would benefit from a need they could understand.  Lisa Hoeve (who is in this class) runs the ministry HopePkgs which supplies first night bags to kids entering care and she has allowed us to partner with her to provide those bags to our county’s DHHS.  We explained how many times kids enter care with only what they are wearing or carry what little they have in trash bags.  We asked our church to participate in a drive for all of the items needed and when all was done, we had over 100 backpacks!

      I learned much from “Everyone can do Something” and now that our people have had the pleasure of succeeding in a simple but needed project, we are moving them to higher committments; wrap-around to start and then eventually getting the equipped families in place to carry out the MTE initiative!

    • #72976
      Karen Hicks
      Participant

      For the foster care role, I think it is helping to explain the state involvement. Giving a clear road map and a CLEAR understanding of what is expected of them.

      For the general community,  Sometime people want to be creative. But most of the time people need to be told what you need.

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