By Mark Bermann, Recruiter/Trainer
The summer months, when recreational activities have their peak appeal to families, are good times to reach out to friends and neighbors to connect on many levels. As part of building a support system for you and your children in care, it’s important to build safety factors into the fun times that you’re looking forward to. A safe place for children to play is one feature of a nurturing community along with creating a culture that encourages neighbors to get to know one another. Nurturing communities can help build strong families and help keep everyone safe. Some of the other factors include:
- Parks and recreation facilities that are accessible, safe and inviting places for families.
- Neighbors who can serve as mentors. Coaches and teachers provide additional support for foster parents.
- Positive relationships with local politicians, police and fire personnel who are kept appraised of summertime neighborhood activities and are invited to attend these events.
- Participation in activities at your local library or community center.
- An opportunity to “meet and greet” your neighbors at a block club event.
- Setting up supervised play groups in the homes of willing families.
- Organizing a community baby-sitting or respite care co-op.
Just as plants are more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities. Having your foster children actively participate in community activities and events will build their sense of “family” and help them feel welcomed in a safe environment. Remember, we’re all in this together, in the best interests of the children and youth who can benefit from our roles as caregivers, teachers and mentors.