10 Oct Doing Good is Simple: Foster Care
Foster care is complicated. Hundreds of thousands of children in the US, over 4,000 right here in South Carolina, are in the foster care system. Each of those children have suffered some sort of complex trauma, usually involving abuse or neglect. These issues lead to DSS becoming involved and removing the children from their home to be placed in a safe and loving temporary family. A judge outlines a treatment plan for the parents (who likely suffered some sort of complex trauma in their childhood as well) and gives them a time frame in which to work on the issues that led to the child being removed. The children see their parents twice a month under the supervision of the caseworker. The children are visited by the caseworker and a Guardian Ad Litem once a month. The parents do the assigned work to improve their family dynamic and living situation. The judge reviews the parent’s progress and deems it sufficient. The children are returned back to their parents and their family is restored.
That’s the best case scenario. There are a number of things that can make a foster care case even more complicated.
The good news for you is that even though foster care is complicated, helping children in foster care is simple. I recently read a book by Chris Marlow entitled Doing Good is Simple. In his book, Marlow says “You impact the world by taking tiny steps in the right direction.” Doing good for children in foster care is simple. You don’t have to do everything, but you should be doing something. If everyone takes a tiny step to help children in foster care, then our community can take one big step forward. You don’t have to do anything crazy or out of your comfort zone – you can use the gifts and talents that you already have to benefit children and families around you.
What does it look like to do something simple for foster families? It can look like making a meal for a foster family when they get a new placement. It can look like picking up a gift card when you’re shopping to help a foster family get the things they need. It can be as simple as writing a note of encouragement for a foster parent or a birthday card for a child in foster care. Building relationships with foster parents is another simple way to help. Life is easier in community, and foster care is no different. Foster parents need understanding friends to share the highs and lows of foster care with, and children in foster care need loving and caring mentors to look up to and help through their tough times.
You could also become a foster parent! The upstate is in desperate need of foster parents. Being a foster parent isn’t easy, but simple and easy are very different. In Marlow’s book, he says “We all want to know and be known. That’s why doing good is so powerful when the focus is first and foremost the people and not the project.” If you focus on the broken foster care system, or the paperwork, or the trauma, then foster care can seem really overwhelming and intimidating. If you focus on the child, then foster care is simple. At its core, foster care is about helping children. If you focus on that, the rest will fall in to place. With the support of a strongly supportive and encouraging community, you can be a successful foster parent!
Foster Care Regional Recruiter