Our theology and philosophy of Foster Care is grace-based for everyone involved in the story of a child in out-of-home care. This article outlines what being a team player looks like in the Foster Care space.
Foster Carers are part of a team, working in partnership to provide what’s best for the child. This team includes the case manager, Foster Carer, the biological family, service providers, and the Government. The Care Team develops the care and placement plan for a child or young person and exists to promote communication and collaboration. That’s not to say this is always easy.
Many carers find it challenging to work with Case Workers when there is high turnover, poor communication, or a lack of availability or helpfulness. This can be for various reasons, including the overwhelming load on the system. Some carers report feeling unappreciated or sometimes disrespected, with a sense of judgement or isolation. It can be discouraging. We need to remember that all these stakeholders are people who we have an opportunity to extend grace and love to. We have an opportunity to respond with kindness, wisdom and calm, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
As deemed appropriate and safe by the Care Team, you will likely be involved in supporting a child to have contact with their birth parents. This can sometimes be a difficult thing for carers to grapple with. Visits can be disruptive and might bring about more challenges for you to work through with the child in your care.
Regardless of the circumstances, a child’s biological family members are a vital part of their identity and integral in the fostering journey. There’s power in accepting the child’s connection to their birth family, communicating that you fully accept who they are and where they come from. There may be limited opportunity to connect directly with the family but there might be small ways to show they are a part of the child’s life, for example in the type of language you use in a communication journal.
When we remain committed to empathy and unconditional love like Jesus offers us, we can trust that God is at work and will take the case where it needs to go. We believe in a God who is all about life-giving relationships and reconciling broken ones. He is making all things new and invites us into the story He’s writing. In whatever window of time that you have with a child, Foster Care is a space of opportunity to participate in God’s work to pour out His love in a way that helps reconcile and heal. Who knows in what surprising ways!
If you’re interested in exploring Foster Care more deeply, Foster Care: First Steps is for you. Check it out here.