If She Didn’t Say Yes, I Couldn’t Say Yes: Ode to Alternative Caregivers

Every foster parent needs someone who unequivocally will step in and pick up where the foster parent runs out of time and energy. Every foster parent needs someone who might not sign the foster care contract, but signs up all the same to come alongside you and get the work of loving a traumatized child done!

My alternative caregiver has stayed up all night at my home and hers with a newborn when there is no maternity leave, so I can work the next day or be coherent to spend time with my other children. When I take kids late at night, she stays with them the next day so I can get to work and they can sleep late and stay home to unwind for a day. She meets social workers when I can’t. She picks up at day care, and she’s taken foster kids to the dentist. She doesn’t ask what the child is like and doesn’t expect him/her to be an angel; She still says yes when I do. She lets us use her pool to teach foster kids to swim and to spend a day unwinding together laughing and splashing.
She picks up groceries, and picks up kids at school. She’s baked lasagnas big enough for 3 families of 6-8. She’s taken the keys to my home during a hard time and had it cleaned when I returned.

Thank you Kim for all you do to encourage and equip my family (and many others) to continue to serve kids in foster care!

She’s not just there physically to help, but often bears the heavy burdens with me of loving kids that have been abused and grieves with me when kids leave. She cries with me and for them, and answers texts before 8am and sometimes after 9pm. When they see her, they run to her too. 

Another Fostering Faithfully alternative caregiver recently agreed to take a baby weaning off meth and needing methadone for a weekend of nothing but screaming. She still signed up. Another alternative caregiver stepped in so a family could go on a dream vacation with their biological kids they’d already promised and saved for. Another alternative caregiver father stepped in to pick up a crying baby up at daycare and meet a biological mother. It was emotional and tough, but he still signed up. Weddings, funerals, emergencies, surgeries, travel plans, or just plain out exhaustion from the emotional needs of some foster kids: alternative caregivers swoop in!

Alternative caregivers provide foster families much needed time for their children and family, and rest to meet the ongoing demands of the social services system and the emotional toil it takes. Alternative caregivers are another stable person to show foster kids that adults will care for them and meet their needs. An alternative caregiver can be a friend of the family, but to formally be one you must be approved by the Department of Social Services.

Can't Foster? You can still love and hold foster kids when their families for a season can't!

Abby Crooks