We’ve all heard the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” – and these days, with the pandemic still looming and the ever-changing guidelines for re-opening business and schools, many of us are relying on our “villagers” more than ever. There are many families, though, that don’t have “villagers” to support them, or don’t know where to look to find assistance. This was true even before the pandemic, and will be true long after this current crisis goes away.
So what are some ways that communities can step up to make sure that families are taken care of – especially foster and adoptive families, where needs may be different, and the type of support offered may need to be adjusted?
Enter “care communities,” groups of 6-8 volunteers from local churches who come alongside foster and adoptive families to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support. Each team “wraps around” the family to provide them the support that they need. For some, this may be homework help or running errands. For others, it could be mentoring a foster child or spending time listening to an overwhelmed parent.
In Central Indiana, Hands of Hope is one of the most active care communities. They have also launched CarePortal – a digital “dashboard” that allows DCS workers to submit requests for the care communities to assist with. There are only 18 churches in Indiana with a CarePortal, but each one gets significant usage! Traders Point Christian Church in Central Indiana, Emmanuel Church in Greenwood, Maryland Christian Church in Terre Haute, Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, and many other local faith communities have active care communities.
Are care communities effective? It would seem so, given that 90% of foster families who would have otherwise quit after their first year decide to stick with it. So much of what makes a foster or adoptive placement successful comes down to supporting the family that is taking care of the child, so that they have the emotional and practical resources to support reunification efforts. If you’re interested in getting involved in a care community, or if you’re a foster/adoptive parent in need of some additional support, we encourage you to contact one of the resources listed below. And of course, let us know if there are other care communities we should add to the list!