If you’re a parent you know just how hard it is to manage daily schedules, meals and more. Most parents have access to a supportive community of people who are willing and able to take their kids for a night or even the occasional weekend. This support gives parents a break and a chance to reset.
However, there’s a major issue in the world of foster care that’s rarely discussed. Foster parents need respite care. Foster parents deal with all the standard struggles of parents but with the added layer of trauma. Additionally, to provide overnight care, family members and friends who are willing to babysit also need to be background checked and CPR/First-Aid certified. Requirements may vary based on county and agency. So why is this so important?
Here are 3 ways respite care helps foster parents:
Scott, how did you first learn about Project 1.27 and what motivated you to get involved?
In 2015, my good friend and business partner, Leif Houkom, Project 1.27 Board Chair, invited me to lunch with Shelly Radic, the Executive Director. As a father of five, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for children. I recognize my children had the advantage of growing up with two parents in a comfortable environment where they were supported and nurtured. Learning about the number of children who don’t have that environment, and their need for a supportive, loving family really moved me. The other key for me was learning about the societal cost of kids who end up aging out of foster care and how Project 1.27 families are reducing those costs.
Since coming on the Project 1.27 Board, how have you been involved in caring for kids in foster care?
I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in late 2015 and that opened my eyes to the incredible need of kids in CO foster care. I’m currently a CASA for a 14-year-old boy in Arapahoe County.
What’s surprised you most as you’ve learned more about kids in foster care?
How desperately they need love. How the smallest gestures of love can make such a profound impact on a child’s sense of security. Too many of these kids have no one who truly cares about them. I began serving as a Court Appointed Advocate (CASA) for a teenage boy who is in foster care. A few weeks after we met, I asked him what else I could do to support him. His response, “Could you just call me after school and see how my day went?” Now, we have almost nightly calls. I realize how much these calls mean to him.
You’ve become a voice for kids in foster care by involving family and friends. What are some ways you’ve done that?
I use my voice to educate friends and family about how big the issue is and how incredibly difficult it is for kids in foster care in our country. Most people don’t have any sense of how big the issue is; it’s almost like they put on blinders.
One of the best tools is to invite people to events, like Top Golf and the Fall Comedy Night so they are exposed to Project 1.27 foster and adoptive families and hear their stories. This is really a wonderful way to open their eyes to the needs of foster children and the impact of Project 1.27 and its families.
How does participating in an event like Top Golf make a difference in the life of a kid in foster care?
It raises awareness and inspires others to contribute to the cause. Most people, including myself before joining the Project 1.27 board, think our government has a handle on this issue. They don’t realize how enormous the challenge is. P1.27 is one example of a non-governmental success story that makes an impact. It takes so many resources to make an impact. The more resources, the more impact we can make.
Why do you think it’s important for Christians to find ways to care for kids in foster care?
We’re all put on this earth to accomplish different things, but my perspective is that our Lord expects us to take care of each other. There are few people more vulnerable and needing care than children who don’t have parents or caregivers. I think as Christians, we all have a responsibility to find a way to care for foster children.
What advice would you give to Christians who want to get more involved?
Jump in! There are so many ways to care. Financial support, caregiving as foster and adoptive parents, becoming a CASA or a Mentor. Pray for foster children. Everyone can help.
How can we pray for you?
Pray that Project 1.27 staff and board continue to have an enthusiastic determination to help foster children and the families that serve them.
It seems to be a common rhetoric that foster parents need to wear capes and have hearts made of steel. Many foster parents often have to dig up a response to the comment “I could never do what you do, I would get too attached.” It’s as if others see foster parents as superheroes, but that simply isn’t true. Being a foster parent is amazing, fills a huge need and is not an easy feat, but foster parents wear jeans just like you.
Here is proof that foster parents don’t have to be made of steel:
As winter begins to melt away and spring breaks through, families start organizing summer activities. When creating summer plans, one thing families consider are the unique and beneficial experiences available through youth and family camps. There are many options specifically for children who have been adopted or are in foster care, as well as a wide variety of camps unique to various ethnicities and cultures. Since foster and adoptive parents are often busy and operating a day at a time, as a Support Team Member, your involvement in researching camps and possibly offering financial help could provide the opportunity to attend!
An often little-known fact about the foster care world is that you have the ability to say no to a placement. Many families feel pressure to accept the first call they get, but it’s important to learn as much information as possible about the child and spend a short time in prayer before deciding. Our team of family care managers put together a list of questions for you to ask before you give an answer.
Ask these 10 questions first when you get a call for placement:
If this information isn’t given to you right away start off with a few easy questions. What is his name, age and does he have any siblings. This will make the rest of the conversation more natural. This also gives you a framework for how he will fit into your existing family birth order (if applicable).
Janet Rowland is the Director for Project 1.27 in the Western Slope. She is also currently the Executive Director for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Mesa County. Previously, Janet worked for Mesa County Department of Human Services in the Child Welfare Division.
We know from our experiences with close friends and family that love takes work. As much as we wish life was a Hallmark movie, we experience loss, challenges, and pain that sometimes feels unresolved. However, as Christians, we are not given conditions of loving others. We forgive, we apologize, we give, and as much as it depends on us, try to be at peace with those around us (Romans 12:18). Our faith is expressed by love in action.
Dahlia and her two older siblings were the first children adopted into a Project 1.27 family. On her adoption date in November 2005, Dahlia was six years old. Now a young adult, Dahlia wants to use her story to encourage other kids in foster care as well as inspire churches and families to get involved.
Tell us a little of your story.
My two older siblings and I were placed in foster care when I was about 18 months. When I was six, we were adopted by a Project 1.27 family who already had two kids. As you might imagine, there were some struggles combining all us kids into one family, and during my teen years, things fell apart for awhile. But now, I’ve found a new kind of love for my parents and all my siblings. We get through the tough things as one family.
What are you up to these days?
I’m working at a law firm doing collections and coding. I’m working on a Personal Trainer Certificate and work out every day. I love to go on adventures, like open mic night at downtown restaurants and hanging out with my sister and girlfriends.
Why do you want to share your story?
I used to be so afraid of my story. I’d get upset when other people knew it. Now I want to share my story. I think it’s a little cooler than everyone else’s - a blessing in disguise. My story makes me who I am and provides a starting place for who I want to be.
I don’t want to be just a statistic. I want other kids in foster care to hear my story and know they can get through that successfully – mind, body, soul. I want little girls to look at me and say, “Whoa! She did it and I can, too!” I volunteer at a school and am thrilled I can be someone little girls can look up to. Being in foster care, being adopted, it can be tough.
What are your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions?
By the end of 2018 I want to start two small businesses, one as a personal trainer and the other as a health and wellness consultant. I want to celebrate my one-year anniversary at the law firm. Another goal is to rent to own a condo. And, go vegan! The biggest thing I’ve been learning is we don’t know our full potential unless we push ourselves. My goals have that purpose.
What are some New Year’s Resolutions you hope others will make?
For foster and adoptive families –
Because caring for vulnerable kids is in the Bible and we’re supposed to follow the Bible; to come together as a community and take care of children in need. If we don’t do this, we’re disobeying. Jesus loves little kids and we need to love like Jesus. Love kids.
How can we be praying for you and your family in 2018?
My biggest prayer is for everyone’s happiness and health. Please pray that my parents have a relaxing year. They are currently fostering five kids and could use it! Pray for protection over the kids they are currently fostering and my entire family. For me personally, pray I will grow in my relationship with God and that I won’t be distracted from reaching my goals. Thanks for praying for us!
(end of interview)
Jump in! Pray about ways you can love on kids and families in foster care. As Dahlia is learning, we don’t know our full potential until we push ourselves. Start by attending an info night. Register today >
When we begin the new year, we hope to make improvements and strides forward in the months to come. In the areas where we have seen challenges, we hope to grow. As evidence demonstrates, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) has brought about lasting and healing results for kids who’ve experienced trauma. In 2018, Project 1.27 will be offering caregiver training in this intervention to help encourage parents that they are not alone in their struggles, AND there is hope in building connection with children from hard places.
The Empowering Principle in TBRI attends to helping children experience felt safety by meeting physiological and environmental needs. We’ve all heard about eating frequent nutritious snacks and drinking plenty of water, but did you know that ensuring such a diet can reduce aggressive behaviors and emotional meltdowns? In addition to highlighting the importance of diet, the Empowering Principle also addresses the crucial roles of physical and sensory activities. Many children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect struggle with registering sensory information. Practicing different physical and sensory activities with children facilitates healing while also developing your relationship.
There is a wealth of interesting and practical information about how to care for kids who’ve experienced trauma. But you don’t have to take our word for it!
On December 11, Thrivent Financial sponsored the 2nd Annual Project 1.27 Family Christmas Party! Volunteers from Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church welcomed families while Project 1.27 staff enjoyed crafting, games and pizza with some really cute kids and their parents.