No one that I know has just woken up one day and decided to become a foster parent, which is probably good (it’s definitely not something to be entered into on a whim) but it’s also too bad.
As a foster parent recruiter it would make my job much easier if I just came into the office each morning with a full inbox of emails from people inquiring about the steps to becoming licensed and welcoming a child into their home.
Now, of course, I do get inquiries. And I follow-up with those people as quickly as I can. But even those individuals who are on the other end of the phone asking questions and setting up a time for me to come look at their home, didn’t just wake up that morning and decide to give FamilyCore a call.
They have a story that has led them to that particular moment.
And that story is usually years and sometimes decades long. While these stories are, of course, unique to each person or couple that is taking this step, there’s seems to be a simple common thread: somehow, they’ve caught a glimpse of what foster care is like and think – “I could do that and it would be worth it.”
Sometimes the person has grown up in foster care and now wants to provide for kids who are going through the same experience. Sometimes they’re a teacher or health care professional who works with these families and wants to serve as they aim to reunite. Sometimes they have known a foster parent and have watched that journey unfold. Sometimes they have had difficulty having biological children and are exploring other ways to care for children. Sometimes they had brothers or sisters who joined their family through foster care, and they want to do what their own parents did by opening their home.
Whatever the story is, it’s somehow connected to the very real need that is present and the change that can happen when good people get involved.
It’s at this intersection of dire need and unrelenting hope that I believe my job exists.
As a foster parent recruiter, I fill my days with a variety of tasks. One of the main goals I set for myself is to bring awareness by building connections in our local community.
Sure, I want to find individuals and couples who are willing to welcome children into their home by becoming licensed foster parents. But in order to do that well, in order to find the right people at the right time, I’ve begun to think of myself as first being a part of their story – I’m that lady they heard talk once. I shared about the child welfare statistics in our area or the opportunities to serve or the stories of impact. I posted something on Facebook about foster care and they happened to click on the article to actually read it.
To me, this sharing is one of the building blocks of a successful foster parent recruitment strategy. No one is going to jump in to meet needs that they don’t know exist.
And we don’t just need more foster parents. We need you, with whatever gifts and talents and experiences you bring to the table.
So I spend some of my time talking about the ways we can show up. Not by jumping in at a level that is beyond our real life capacity, but at one that matches who we are and what we can actually contribute. I believe that if we show up to the invitation, good things will happen.
The needs of the foster care community are vast and varied. This means we can show up in all sorts of ways.
We can show up by making meals or rocking babies or reading stories or organizing a closet or cleaning visiting rooms or offering a listening ear.
We can show up by running a diaper drive or hosting a training session or teaching a teen to cook or advocating in the courtroom. We can show up by baking a dessert or running a powerpoint presentation or putting together a care package or designing an event flier.
And you know what? When we show up, we begin to impact a system that can too often feel impersonal and messy. When we show up we infuse that system with personhood and connection. When we show up, we offer not only our time and our talent, but most importantly, our hearts.
And the best part of all is that things really do change. Sure, systems can be overwhelming and slow moving. But systems are just made up of people who are longing to be noticed, supported, and loved.
So let’s show up. Let’s do what we can with what we have. Let’s believe that things can be different for these families and kids. When we do, good things happen.
Workers feel more appreciated. Parents feel more seen. Kids feel more supported. Foster parents feel more sustained.
All of it matters. All of it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead