By: Laura Leigh
Now, we all know it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes one to raise a parent. It’s not enough to just have one Host Family supporting one parent. We need a village to surround each family-in-crisis with caring, compassionate community. So for all those who would like to be a village for a parent-in-crisis, be sure to fill out this 3 minute form to officially join a Circle of Support. You can join a Circle of Support that belongs to a Host Family you know, or you will be matched to one within your church or geographical area.
As a member of a Circle of Support, you will be the first to get notified whenever the Host Family starts hosting. You will then be encouraged to help the Host Family in practical ways (check out this blog’s companion article, 15 Simple Ways to Support a Host Family). When hostings start, Circles of Support are also mobilized to support the parent-in-crisis as well.
I’ve come up with a list of 15 ideas for how to help a parent-in-crisis that do not require any sort of background check or vetting through Safe Families. Some tips are absolutely free, some may cost a little, and some are a financial investment of $20 or more.
1. Write an encouraging card for the parent. You can compliment their parenting, show them honor, include some Bible verses, or recognize their progress. If you don’t see the parent in person, give it to the Host Family so they can give it to them. Something as simple as, “I’m so impressed that you have him fully potty-trained! Teach me your secret!” can help a parent build self-esteem.
2. Pray for them in specific ways (i.e. for a housing spot to open up by Friday, for them to get the job, etc). Then also let them know you’ve been praying for that specific thing.
3. If they move into a new place, donate your unused furniture and help them move. Nothing like sweating, cleaning, and building furniture to help form a friendship!
4. Invite the parent(s) to join you at your church, a mom’s group, or your life group. Inviting people to these things is the point of these things. Something I’ve not tried yet: offer to go with the parent to a church that is close to where they live. Click here for a list of Mom’s groups in the area . I can personally vouch for Carenet’s Mom’s Group and BCRC’s MOPs. One I’d like to add to the list is the Blanket of Love groups.
5. Try to brainstorm if you have any connections that may help the parent get a new job, meet their goals, or thrive as a family. Sharing your connections and social network is free and easy, but it can help a parent move out of poverty! Take five minutes to think through the following categories: education, career, transportation, church, counseling, parenting, legal, entertainment, and health.
6. Subscribe to the Hope Network News and familiarize yourself with local resources so you can easily refer the parent to a helpful organization or resource when the situation arises. Just scan their resources every quarter and you’ll be suprised how often that information comes in handy.
7. Offer to go with them to a WIC appointment, a court appointment, or any other kind of appointment. Not only would this help a parent stay sane and lessen their burdens, it would also be educational for you if you’ve never had to jump through the hoops of the welfare system.
MIGHT COST A LITTLE:
8. Put together a blessing bag for a mom…lotions, chocolates, warm socks, a journal, etc. Let’s be real. All moms deserve this. I think this would be particularly thoughtful to do for a mom on Mother’s Day.
9. Take a picture of their kids, print it out, and put it in a nice frame for them. Having printed pictures is a luxury of time that many parents don’t have. Plus every parent thinks their own kid is the cutest.
10. Make them or Order them a meal. If you don’t see the parent in person, leave it in the Host Family’s freezer until they can deliver it to the parent. If you know the parent’s address, you can always have pizza delivered to their door. I’ve had KFC deliver to a family and it went over extremely well.
11. Gift them an encouraging book. Give them one of yours or gift a new one. One parent recently told me that she loved “Thoughts to Make your Heart Sing” by Sally Lloyd Jones. It’s technically a children’s book, but I think it’s lovely for all ages.
12. Do the extra work it takes to try to get a scholarship for the kids to attend a great summer camp, Vacation Bible School, sports program, or anything else. Every parent wants their child to have fun experiences, but they might just assume that they can’t afford anything. If you have the resource of time, you can do a little digging to see what is free or what can be scholarshipped. *OR* you can scholarship the kids to go yourself!
FINANCIAL INVESTMENT OF $20 OR MORE:
13. Buy a 1 day, 7 day, or 31 day bus pass so they can get around to appointments and interviews. Did you know that riding the bus is not cheap? Here are the costs: M•CARD/Ride MCTS App Ride–$2; Cash Ride–$2.25; 1-Day Pass–$4; 7-Day Pass–$19.50; 31-Day Pass–$72.
14. Give them a Grocery Store gift card. Personally, I think Aldi is the best. But any place is fine as long as you double check to make sure there is a convenient location close to the parent. Many parents are on SNAP aka food stamps, but a grocery gift card could help them purchase some supplies that are ineligible through SNAP. Or they may want to splurge on their kids…who wouldn’t? This would be especially nice around the holidays.
15. Help to financially support the parent’s goals of getting their GED, completing a job training course, or going back to school. Many of the parents served by Safe Families have the potential to be a first generation graduate of high school, community college, or college. You could be the difference maker.
Don’t forget to check out this blog’s companion article, 15 Simple Ways to Support a Host Family.