On The Grid: Tier 1 – Foster CareRich Stigall
Perhaps the biggest misconception about the foster care system: I have to be a foster parent to engage in the child welfare system.
This misconception has emerged because of the lack of awareness: there are simply ineffective means to communicate the wide spectrum of needs of those already engaged with the system. Social workers are at a loss, for the pool of resources offered by non-profits and other agencies are constrained and highly competitive. There are those who wish to serve as foster parents but lack the finances to prepare the home. Once foster parenting begins, other needs are identified, leaving foster parents scrambling to find alternative solutions to caring for the child, sometimes at the risk of a child transition if needs cannot be met. What’s to be done?
The Care Portal seeks to offer the awareness and opportunity for engagement that has been veiled from the eyes of the church. There are a number of alternatives to helping those in foster care system without actually serving as a caregiver: Tier 1 – Foster Care is designed to address those needs. If this box on The Grid had to be given a name, it would be called Foster Care Reinforcement.
There have been a number of churches who have responded to Care Portal requests in this box. The requests come in all shapes and sizes but all relate to supporting a prospective or existing foster parent.
A church in Olathe, KS, paid for the costs of cheerleading to allow an eleven-year-old female to have an outlet for expression. The foster family believes that cheerleading will provide a constructive activity to assist in emotional stabilization. The foster family didn’t want to transition the child from their home; rather, they needed assistance to cover the costs of this program. This Kansas church agreed to support the family.
Out in western KS, a church in Hutchinson provided a forward facing car seat as the foster family only had access to an infant seat. The social worker noted, “By meeting this need, we will support the child being placed in the local community during the reintegration process.” Not only was the placement preserved, but another layer of stabilization was maintained as the child was not required to move into another home or community.
In El Paso, TX, a church paid $205 to assist a prospective caregiver in preparing the home for foster care. In order to pass a home inspection, the caregiver was required to purchase a 20” life saver, a life hook, and a pole for the life hook. These safety devices were considered critical pieces to allowing children to enter the home. Because of the $205, a 15 year old female and 12 year old female were placed in the home.
To engage in the foster care system is not merely to serve as a foster parent. There are people crying out for reinforcement so that they may be the hands and feet of Jesus to a child in need of placement. With The Care Portal, awareness is no longer a challenge. It’s the opportunity.