For Faith Communities
Some are Called to Foster or Adopt. We all are Called to Care.
Creating a Wrap Around Ministry
Launching a foster care and adoption ministry at your church will be crucial to the support and retention of foster and adoptive families.
One of the top reasons foster parents terminate their home as a placement is a lack of social support. The church can support these families in tangible, emotional and spiritual ways. Here are some ways to engage your congregation in “Wrapping Around” those who open their homes to care for this vulnerable population. Whether you are a 10-year-old boy who can mow a lawn to help a father spend more time with the children he is fostering, or you are 80-years-old and can bake some muffins to drop on a family’s doorstep for breakfast, there is a role for everyone in the church.
- Create a support groups for parents – some specifically centered around the strengths and struggles of families.
- Create a Wrap Around Team to circle around family when child comes home. This includes support systems such as meal train set up, assistance with rides and transportation, practical logistics to help during transition time. You may wish to develop your own church database for this.
- Offer play groups for children who are in foster care or have been adopted so they can spend time with others who have a shared experience, culture and/or background.
- Partner newer families with another foster family to walk closely with them through the ups and downs.
- Implement on-going courses for foster and adoptive families taught by trained social workers. “The Connected Child” by Dr. Karyn Purvis serves as an excellent educational outline for these classes.
- Create a community to support each other through placement disruptions, attend court dates together and more
- Develop play rooms with court approved monitors to help facilitate child welfare visitations, CASA/GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem) meetings for workers and children, etc.
- Recruitment new Court Appointed Special Advocates.
- Create a Foster Care Closet at the church to collect donated items for foster families receiving a new child.
- Work with local child welfare agencies to bring foster care certification training to your church location.
- Host speakers and seminars on attachment disorders, sensory issues . For example, you can screen Empower to Connect.
- Implement SAFE Families program at your church to wrap around at-risk families in the community.
Steps to Implementation
- Get Senior Leadership/Missions Pastor on board with adding foster care support and education to a pre-existing orphan care or adoption ministry. The church is commanded to care for orphans. But what does foster care have to do with orphan care? Did you know the majority of children (estimated at 80%) in orphanages have a living parent? Many of these children were placed into orphanages for the same reason kids in the United States are placed in foster care. It’s important that the Church begin to see engagement in foster care as a critical piece of their role in orphan care.
- Form a Leadership Team. It is helpful to have leadership who have walked the journey and have first-hand experience, to oversee different elements of the ministry (such as with Waiting Families, Foster Parents, Adoptive Families). These individuals will have the most insight into how to best serve families who are navigating the complexities of foster care and adoption.
- Contact and develop a relationship with local child welfare office. Ask about ways to serve that region (such as updating visitation room, providing items needed at that office for children, hosting foster parent appreciation dinners for the community, etc.). Request a PATH training be held at your church location after once enough families have stepped forward to begin the certification process. It is ideal for a group of families to walk through this process together, in their own church building, providing a sense of community, respite for each other, and support from their congregation.
- Develop a process to serve new foster and adoptive families. This could include a meal train being set up, having a gift basket from the church delivered, matching a family with a resource family who has walked a similar journey, or assigning them someone to gather urgent needs (such as clothing, bottles, toothbrushes, etc.) for foster families with new placements.
- Identify largest needs in the current congregation. This may look like a large number of foster or adoptive families who could benefit from community play groups for children, or educational resources brought into the church on attachment, trauma, and connection. It could also mean a large number of families signing up to become certified foster parents, allowing for a small group to run a foster resource closet for immediate needs of foster families.
- Engage the entire congregation in the ministry. Wrap Around is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved. We encourage you to develop a database of members who are willing to be contacted when a need arises such as meals, lawn care, babysitters, etc. That database can be great for quick email blasts, such as “Foster family just had two children under the age of three placed in home - need two car seats, toddler clothing and meals for the next two weeks.”
- The church has an exciting and vital role to play in caring for children in foster care. Start your own church “Wrap Around” ministry and give everyone in your congregation the opportunity to say “Yes” to serving children and families connected to foster care.
America's Kids Belong has a kit available for download with information on serving children in foster care through church or ministry.
To learn more about Wrap Around Ministry contact America's Kids Belong.