Driven to Drive
The child welfare system is messy and nuanced and colorful. It just is.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to the organization that manages all of the local cases in the child welfare system. In that conversation I asked how we can help. Immediately the response was “transportation”. I’m not sure what all I was expecting or hoping to hear but I was not too thrilled at the starting point of this chat.
If I am being honest, the least favorite part of the foster parenting gig for me was the driving. We had a ton of appointments to catch up on and some services that required weekly appointments to fill in gaps in the kids’ development. I'll just say that my calendar looked like a crayon box threw up on it, smudged the chunky evidence, and then made a slip and slide with it. I tried to make a decoder but that might have made it more confusing.
So my initial, internal, reaction to the thought of helping get people together to drive kids was not favorable. I think I fought an eye roll so hard I gave myself a headache.
Then I remembered the mission. I remembered the kids. These kids need rides. They need to get to the visits. They need to see their families. While caseworkers are tasked with coordinating visits, they are just too overloaded to accommodate all of the aspects of family visits. Foster parents, don't even get me started here (crayon infused calendar, remember?), are crazy busy too and not always available to drive kids to all of the places they need to be- and there are a lot of places they need to be and a lot of people that need to see them.
I thought back to me and my wacky calendar driving the kids and their siblings to visits. I recalled that in driving the older siblings to their visits I was able to forge a bond with them. Over time they opened up in the car and asked me questions and shared information with me. I was surprised at how comfortable they felt in the car. I was also a little taken aback by the weight of the things they were processing through. As time progressed and visits continued I was able to be a constant thread through a little uncertainty and transition for the kids. I was again surprised at the significance that driving the kids and allowing them to process through the inner chaos (and outer chaos too, let’s be real here), had in the long run. I was reminded that all of the time spent in the car with the kids was so much more than just a ride.
Family visits are an integral part of the system. These visits are critical to maintaining a bond between the biological family and the children. Kids are often triggered by these visits as they remind them of the reality of their situation, raise new questions about what is happening to them and their family, and sometimes bring up traumatic memories. So while the visits are important they can be difficult. The kids deserve a safe place to process through the complicated emotions that come with family visits.
Team, while I was not at first, I really am now excited to share that Foster Change is tangibly getting involved in our local child welfare system.
Volunteers will be driving the kids to and from the family visits. The hope is that each volunteer gets paired with a family in order to help create stability and consistency around the transportation. On every drive, trauma informed volunteers invest in each child as they process difficult emotions so they feel seen, valued, heard, and validated. Additionally, we aim to remove some of the burden placed on overworked caseworkers and relieve pressure on caregivers to do more than their busy schedules allow.
If you are interested in investing in the next generation, standing with those fighting for their family today, and coming alongside the professionals in the child welfare system, please email me, I would love to connect.
Looking forward to hearing from you,