May 2019Vol. 20, No. 4Fostering Families Develops Thriving Families
Written by Katrina George, director of marketing and communications, FaithBridge Foster Care, Alpharetta, GA
Meet the Schoomakers, Barlows, Moores, DiCaras, and Prices. They are part of a fostering community at Four Points Church in Acworth, GA. Partnering with FaithBridge Foster Care, these foster parents are making a positive impact in the lives of foster children and their biological families. Their approach includes partnering with biological parents, keeping them informed of their children's lives, and continuing to support and connect with them after reunification. They are in it for the long haul.
"We share what is happening in our home," explains Heather and Tyler Price. "We invite them to appointments, share discipline strategies, and allow them into our lives."
Jill and Tony DiCara also involve parents in decision-making. "We also send pictures and encourage them in their progress."
"We have the ability not just to step into a child's story but into a family's story," say Nicole and Bruce Barlow. "For instance, we had a baby who was struggling to bond with his mother. We saw that the visitation environment was not ideal, so we decided to do some visits at our house where we knew the baby felt comfortable. This helped them bond, and, together, we were able to meet the needs of the child."
Their connection after reunification provides a community of support that did not exist prior to their child's placement.
"We cared for two brothers and are thrilled that they have returned home to a mom who is truly transformed!" says Heather Price. "It has been beautiful to see her progress and by keeping a relationship with her, we remembered our role as a partner in caring for her children when she couldn't. We celebrate their reunification now that she is able to care for them well! Church members have also supported mom after a car accident totaled her car. Without that support, her children could have been removed again."
"We had two girls in care and since they went back home, we have kept them about twice a month. We contact mom weekly to check on them and she calls or texts if she needs help with the kids," says Andrea and Zorin Moore.
Julie and James Schoomaker's current foster children have a 20-year-old sister. According to the Schoomakers, "She [the 20-year-old sister] herself had been in and out of foster care, and we include her in her siblings' lives. We have assisted in finding her housing and encourage her to set up supports that will make her successful."
Ultimately, these foster parents recognize that support and community is what helps any family thrive, including their own.
"We have an extended family that includes people from our fostering journey. We are invited to birthday parties and family events. We pray for them. They pray for us. We all get the community support that is needed to thrive, and the kids get a community of people loving them and fighting for their success," says Nicole Barlow.
"The best way to describe our relationship now would be family," say the Moores. "They think of us as family and we do too!"
To learn more about FaithBridge Foster Care, visit www.faithbridgefostercare.org.