Pastor's Desk - Foster Care and the Family

May 07, 2023

“Fostering is not about us. It never was and never will be. Foster care is about serving, loving on others, and being the one constant in a child’s life when they are going through a really hard time.” - Jeremy Garman

What do you know about Foster Care? Would you want to be a foster parent? Or have you had foster siblings and what was it like? Would you want to keep the tradition in your family? What stories have you heard about foster children and how have those stories influenced your attitude to fostering children? 

I have chosen foster care as the focus on the family for this month, sometimes referred to as Family Month and Child’s Month. 

Recently the Jamaica Baptist Union Family Life Commission led a webinar on foster care. Some very important matters were highlighted which I would love to draw your attention to in this article.

What is a Foster Care?

Foster care happens because there are children, nearly 5000 of them in the care of the state and who need to be protected, provided for and educated so that they can fulfill their God-given potential. Foster care is the process of placing children in need with a family, considered to be a safe place and space so that their development can be adequately facilitated. These children who are the responsibility of the government, are usually placed in state managed facilities as well as private homes managed by churches such as Garland Hall home (JBU), St James, National Children’s Home (Methodist), Kingston, to name a few. Whereas these homes do help many of these children, they are inadequate to completely meet their needs. Research has shown that placing children with a family is more effective in meeting the needs of the child than having them in a state or private facility.

Who needs Foster Care?

Most children in state facilities are the ones placed in foster homes. They are usually children who are orphaned, neglected, abused, or abandoned. They are children who need food, shelter, clothing, medical care, emotional, spiritual, and social support. They are usually children between the ages of (0-18) years. Normally their chances of a healthy wholesome family life would be marred. When they are placed with loving, caring, and compassionate families, they increase their chances of being more rounded.

We heard a story of a young lady, let’s call her Meggie, who went to her father as a child to ask for a pair of shoes. He chased her away with a slew of expletives and she got into a taxi heartbroken and in tears. In the taxi she met a lady who became her foster parent. She is now an international lawyer and values greatly the support she receives from her foster parents.

Why should I care?

Because Jesus told us to, “Let the little children, come to me and do not stop them” Matt. 19:14 NRSV. Children need families where they are safe in every way. Hence as believers, how can we see children in need and not offer care? Sometimes there is fear by potential parents that the child will be ‘bad’ or ‘rude’ or misbehave. This is where the love and patience you offer will contribute to the healthy formation of the child. We should care because this is what obedience means.

We may not be able to change all the children in the world around us, but we could change the world for one child. A foster couple Mark and Mindy (not real names) shared of a child who when he came to them, they noticed that when he got food, he would hide it under his pillow. They were able to convince him that there was no need to do that as there was enough for him to receive. They have a biological son but decided from early in their marriage, that they would also foster a child as part of their commitment to ministry to young people.

What will it cost?

It will cost you financially, but the Family Life Ministries (FLM) contributes over $6500.00 for one child in addition to the monthly sum provided by the state. It will cost emotional investment, which is needed for raising any child, however, the FLM assists with counseling support for parents. The experience could also change you from being a self-serving person to becoming a serving person. The programme could also be short-term, medium-term, or long-term. It is not permanent, as is the case with adoption.

How does it work?

Ask God if this is what He wants you to do? Call the CPFSA or the FLM and indicate to them that you would like to foster a child. They would process your application and if you qualify would match you with a child. You could qualify if you were a couple, a single female or a single male related to the child. You must be able to provide a home which meets minimum standards. FLM welcomes Christian parents, and their programme has been working very well.

In what ways can you assist?
Pray for all children in state care and pray especially for foster parents and foster children.

Contribute to For the Child Foster Care programme operated by FLM. On Mothering Sunday, the JBU Family Life Commission will be requesting a special offering to be collected at all JBU churches for the FLM foster care programme. Please give generously.

“Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” – Rita F. Pierson

May God guide you in your decision to become a foster parent or support those who are.

Your Pastor