Fifty percent (50%) of families who step into foster care and/or adoption will quit within the first year. They cite lack of support as the main reason. But with support, 90% continue on for years.
Big Question #1: Why do families quit?
First of all, parents of children with special needs or trauma experience chronic stress levels comparable to combat soldiers. They are at higher risk for caregiver fatigue, burnout, PTSD, depression and divorce.
And, there’s no quick or easy fix. Kids come to you after experiencing these big, hard things. We attended a trauma workshop that offered practical tips in managing trauma behaviors. And said after putting in the time, day in and day out for 18 months, you’ll see results. So it makes sense that without support, so many foster families are done after one year. It’s hard, you’re all alone and it’s not getting any better.
Big Question #2: What does margin look like for a family in crisis?
Families in crisis don’t have margin. Life happens in very rough waters. And your people (family, friends, church, school, counselors, doctors, babysitters, etc)—your support—is your family’s lifeboat. Without margin, water comes in the boat faster than you can bail out.
So you’re drowning. But, drowning doesn’t look like what you think. And sometimes, you don’t even realize you’re drowning.
“Shouting self care at people who actually need community care is how we fail people.” Nakita Valerio
Big Question #3: What are some practical ways anybody can get involved and what kind of commitment are we talking about?
If someone is drowning, you don’t stand over them and ask them why they’re drowning. Or suggest things they do differently.
You jump in.
Don’t say, “Let me know if you need anything.”
Instead say, “I’m picking up CFA. What can I get for your family?”
Just show up.
Why do we wait for people to die to show up with food? People eat every day. Just show up with food. A meal gives families time to do other things. Margin to go to the pool or ride bikes a little longer and come home to dinner because they don’t have to worry about cooking. And, a meal shows these families they have this whole community who cares about them.
So often for these families, one meal a month can be a lifeboat.
Content by: Carlyn Menser, Susan Fowler & Kelley Nichols