LUTC Radio Episode 3- Foster Care
This week we talk with Stephanie Filer (Office Moms and Dads Coordinator for congregations in West Seattle, Andrew Schneidler (The Permanence Project) and Light Up the City's Foster Care Support Specialist Mandy Neill) about how the Church can engage with Foster Care.
I'm about to get uncomfortably real with my inner-thought life: Before working at Light Up the City, I really never really thought much about foster care. Writing that statement hurts. But, it's true. Foster care seemed like an issue that was beyond and outside of my scope of engagement. I understood that the government has a large role in the welfare of these children, and that somehow made it okay for me to compartmentalize the issue at hand. The awful thing about feeling this way- is that my sister has been working for a non-profit organization in foster care (with kids who have an extreme unlikelihood of ever being adopted) for almost 20 years now. My thought process was- well, I have four kids of my own, I know that I'm not in a season of being in a place to adopt or foster- so, I'm sure someone else is handling it.
My foster care paradigm shift began with a visit to a Department of Social Health Services (DSHS) office in West Seattle last fall, when I learned there are many ways and levels to engage this massive issue. A simple way is to just support those who are in the industry (like my sis), or DSHS workers- many who are doing their best to love and serve these kids through a difficult time. I was blown away to learn about the Office Moms and Dads program, which simply has volunteers come in and play and interact with kids who are waiting for placement. What a concept! I completed the training this Spring with a number of other folks from West Seattle churches and am on a list for coordinators who send out text blasts when a child comes in.
While many are doing awesome work with these precious kiddos, this is a way I can engage. Another, is to simply pray for the kids in foster care and for the workers- to go to the Heavenly Father and ask for His goodness and mercy for these kids. It's an easy reminder for me when I cross the West Seattle Bridge in the morning and afternoon and look over to the DSHS office to the south of the bridge on Delridge.
Not everyone can be a foster parent- or is even called to engage. But a simple way we can engage as the church is to pray. The surprising thing are there are many different ways to engage.
-Nathan A. Ryan