Family Development Worker, Gerre Maillet, discusses how anybody can support children in foster care, even if they are not ready to become foster parents themselves. This article originally appeared in the Youth Dynamics February 2017 newsletter.
Become a Mentor
Become a Respite Provider
Offer to Run Errands for a Foster Family You Know
Drop Off a Meal or Offer to Clean the House
Make a Donation
Plan a Play Date
Socialization is an important component to having a sense of belonging. Be willing to have a play date, especially if your children are in the same grade at school, play sports or are in music together. Having other adults for support is important to any child, but most specifically to a foster child that is new to the area, or has limited adults they feel safe with and can trust.
Consider Putting on a “Shower” for the Arrival of New Child
Often children in the foster care system have limited clothing and possessions. Find out what the size and type of clothes the child would like, along with toys and other possessions to help them feel welcome and part of the community. Even providing gift cards for specific gear, such as car seats, cribs, game systems, and bedding items are a big help when adding to your household.
Provide Grace to the Family
Having a new child in the home takes time to adjust to new schedules, routines and behaviors. Children in the foster care system experience trauma which will often display in behaviors that require your time and patience. So if your new foster parent friends or family are not as available as they once were, or they are not good at returning phone calls – provide grace to the family, they will benefit from knowing you are there for them when they reach out.
Gerre Maillet hails from Missoula, and began working for Youth Dynamics in June 2016 as the Bozeman Family Development/Community Outreach Coordinator. She holds a Master of Social Work degree, and also acquired her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the University of Montana. While completing her master’s degree she was part of the Child Welfare Partnership, and has for the past 5 years worked in adolescent therapeutic group homes. She enjoys being outdoors, particularly near water and in the mountains. Gerre draws inspiration from art forms; namely theatre, dance, music and visual art. She looks forward to experiencing what Bozeman and the surrounding areas have to offer.