Photo: This family includes a teen who was recently placed with them through foster care, another teen who has been adopted by the foster parents and a third who is a birth child. The family is pictured during a recent visit to South Korea.
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFS), a Recognized Ministry Organization of the LCMS, offers a plethora of services out of its offices across Colorado. Inspired by the compassionate love of Christ, Lutheran Family Services walks with the vulnerable through services that heal, strengthen and provide hope.
In 2011, thanks to an LCMS grant, LFS was able to recruit and train families in nine homes to provide respite care for children staying with foster families. Long-term foster families are dedicated to providing excellent care for the children in their charge, but an occasional “break” from their duties allows them to be even better foster families. From March through December 2011, LFS provided a total of 451 nights of respite care for 172 foster children, and 250 of those nights were made possible by the LCMS grant.
Ricardo and Alicia are just two of the energetic, loving and attentive foster parents who have benefitted from the availability of respite care. Six foster children, ages 14 to 18, are currently in Ricardo and Alicia’s care. Four of these teens were refugees from Asia and two were from nearby counties in Colorado. Though Ricardo and Alicia enjoy caring for the children and taking them on family trips, they also look forward to opportunities to get away for a day or two together and focus on maintaining a healthy marriage. Putting the children in trustworthy respite care allows them to do this from time to time. They report that the children also enjoy respite care, since it gives them an opportunity to interact with other refugees and foster children — the kids play soccer, watch movies and even Skype together.
“Foster parents are better parents when they have time for themselves, and that respite is a vital part of the foster care process” wrote Heidi Hendricks, vice president of Child and Family Services for LFS and coordinator of the respite care for foster families project. “Not all foster families feel the need to use respite funds on a monthly basis; however, when a family is particularly stressed with providing constant care for a very high-needs child, the availability of this option can be crucial for [maintaining placement with a family]. Foster families, especially those with multiple children at home, need respite choices in order to continue as a viable placement option. It is also imperative that we, as the agency, offer as many opportunities as possible for foster parents to utilize respite.”
Join the LCMS in giving thanks for the families who care for foster children, and pray that the respite care provided for these foster children would be a blessing to both them and their families.
- Learn more about how to apply for domestic grants from the LCMS at www.lcms.org/domesticgrants.