On The Grid: Tier 2 – Foster CareRich Stigall
Tier 2 – Foster Care needs are often overlooked because of the overwhelming need in the foster care system, but this inattention should not be interpreted as an absence of importance. Rather, the status quo of the foster care system – a system in which the burden of care is currently falling on a small group rather than a large body – will remain the same unless Tier 2 – Foster Care needs are met.
Let’s explore that thought.
Imagine a family – let’s call them the Jones family – whose spirit has been moved to engage in the foster care system. The Joneses serve as a foster family for one child, lovingly pouring into the child. Then the Joneses serve as a foster family for another child, and another, and another. They pour their hearts into the child each time, feeling the very burden of family collapse that the child has endured. It is difficult work, and their whole lives have been shaped by this pressing on their heart to serve. Over time, exhaustion plagues the family morale, impacting all of the relationships in the family.
One of the foster children in the Jones’ home – let’s call her Lucy – has significant mentoring and tutoring needs. Her time in the foster care system has impacted her education, and her reading levels and math competency has fallen behind due to the stresses of family collapse and the foster care system. Her foster parents pour into her life, but her needs are far greater than one couple’s ability to meet those needs. They’re so tired, too, only compounding the challenges.
Both the parents and the children in the foster home have needs. Both are in need of help, and it has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with relationship.
Yet, there’s a different scenario. The Jones family welcomes Lucy into the home. Knowing that the Jones family cannot meet all of Lucy’s needs without enduring huge sacrifices of time, energy, and money, the Jones’ church family aids the Joneses in caring for Lucy. Four families in the church commit to making a meal once a month, creating a rotation schedule so each family only has to prepare one meal a month. A teenager in the youth group babysits for a reduced rate so that the parents can have a night out. Another family in the congregation offers to take the Jones biological children to soccer practice. Another member in the congregation serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), meeting with Lucy regularly to walk her through the progress of her court hearings and family placement. Finally, a retiree in the congregation offers to help Lucy with her homework.
The first scenario is a reflection of a system in which few hands try to do many tasks. The alternative scenario describes the work of many hands only needing to do few tasks. Tier 2 – Foster Care opportunities reveal the greater need for church-wide engagement in the foster care system.
This box on the grid encompasses those opportunities to relationally invest in children in state custody and foster families with children in the home. If it had to be given a name, this box would be called Foster Care Coalition. It embodies the belief that foster care is not meant for isolated individuals in the church but rather for the church as a body of unified individuals. With every church doing a little, what a difference can be made!
For more information on Tier 2 – Foster Care, click here>>