Ten ways your church can support families who foster, adopt or offer supported lodgings

The support you offer to families will really make a difference.

Home for Good believes the Church is brilliantly placed to ensure that children and teenagers in care are welcomed into loving families, and that those families are supported to thrive.

Here are ten things that your church can do that will really make a difference in the lives of families who foster, adopt or provide supported lodgings:

1. Pray.

Home for Good believes in the power of prayer. Pray for foster carers, supported lodgings hosts and adoptive families in your church and their children and young people. Pray for the care-experienced children in your community. Pray for the thousands of children across the UK who are waiting for the right home. Please also pray for the work of Home for Good. If you are directly in contact with fostering or adoptive families or supported lodgings hosts, ask them what they would appreciate prayer for and how they would like you to pray for them - but recognise that it is unlikely to be appropriate for you to pray directly with their children.

2. Be a friend to the foster carers, adoptive parents and supported lodgings hosts in your church.

Let them know you care and are praying for them. Send an encouraging text. Buy them flowers or something practical the family can use, like a cinema or bowling voucher. Sit with them in church. Invite them over to your house or out to play. Come alongside them in a considerate and loving way.

3. Listen, but don’t expect all the information.

Like any parent, all foster carers, adoptive parents and supported lodgings hosts will sometimes need someone who will listen to them, especially when things are challenging. If they trust you to be that person, listen with love and care, but respect that there will be some things they cannot share. Don’t probe them with questions, especially about the history of the children or young people in their care, and understand that there are some things that will need to remain confidential.

4. Learn children’s names, but never use them on social media.

It means a lot when you remember child or young person's name; both to the carer, but also to the child or teenager when they’re old enough to engage with you. But remember that these names are precious and it may be that for their safety, the whereabouts of these children needs to be protected. Don’t use these names in a public forum, especially on social media, and if you are privileged enough to have photographs, don't share them with others.

5. Think creatively about practical support.

Sometimes the most obvious support, like babysitting or helping at bath or bedtime, isn’t appropriate or allowed when children are fostered or have recently been adopted – but there are still many ways you can help! Cook a meal for the family, offer to take away some ironing or clean the house when the family is out. Perhaps you could visit the house to play with a younger child while the carer is helping an older child with homework? Also consider how you can help a family with birth children, especially during times of transition, as they may well appreciate the offer of babysitting or trips out.

6. Become a Champion for Home for Good in your church!

We’re looking for individuals who are passionate about fostering, adoption and supported lodgings to be our Champions. You will be at the heart of all we do – raising awareness in your church and supporting the vision of Home for Good. For more information and to become a Champion, click here.

7. Make sure your church is safe and welcoming for vulnerable children.

As well as being kind, accepting and welcoming, it is important that your church is prepared with the right safeguarding practices and child protection policies in place. Ensuring that these are kept updated and followed at all times will keep not only the children and young people safe, but will also protect those who serve in your children’s and youth ministries. For help and support with this, click here.

8. Be willing to adapt and change.

Recognise that children who are in or have been in care may be experiencing a lot of new and potentially worrying situations – and their carer or parent is doing all they can to love, nurture and support them. Be flexible and ready to adjust your programmes, your routines, and your expectations to accommodate them, rather than expecting them to do so for you.

9. Find out more and keep on learning.

Read some of the stories on our website and come along to one of our events to equip you to understand and help even further!

10. Never, ever, ever give up.

Foster carers and supported lodgings hosts are committed to their children and young people and will stick with them for as long as they need a home, and parents who adopt are building a family for their children, faithfully loving them even when it is hard. If you can journey with them and support them every step of the way, you will be playing a vital role in providing stability and security - and that will truly mean the world.

Thank you for all that you do to love and support foster carers, supported lodgings hosts, adoptive families and their wonderful children and young people.

Author:
Home for Good


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