I was half way through writing a little post yesterday about what it looks like when a child is brought into care and had to abandon it when a phone call came in at 9:30pm about a ‘3’ year old girl (turns out she is 4) who needed a safe place for the night.
Back in a former life I worked at Community Christian in the Chicago suburbs. The staff had some wonderful leadership sayings that helped to shape the DNA of the church. One of these sayings was to ‘lead with a Yes.’ It can be so easy in all circumstances of life to say ‘no’, Or to let an idea/opportunity pass you by because it will cause you, your family or your organisation to change.
Particularly when others come at you with an idea, or a need, the knee-jerk reaction can be that saying no or not now keeps the status quo and most definitely involves less energy from you.
However, when a foster parent chooses to be on the list as an Emergency carer, the ‘lead with a Yes’ attitude is a necessity. At 9:30pm when the on call worker calls asking if you can take a child that has been through more violence in a day then I have in my life, you don’t worry about all the chaos (big/little/perceived or otherwise) that will be created by saying yes. Rather you focus on the opportunity to make a small child feel safe and to be the adult that she finds that will help her know that she is ok.
So what happens when a child is brought into Emergency Care? Generally it involves the Police and a rather drastic situation. This isn’t the only way children come in to care but there are some situations that have obviously gotten out of control and the child needs to be immediately removed. The Police will call The Department of Communities on call number and the child will likely be dropped off to the office with whatever they are wearing and if they are lucky, a few belongings of their own.
From there people are called, agencies are contacted to try and find the best possible carer who is available. This can take hours. I know in the US a few offices have ‘Office mums and Dads’, people who have a heart for children in need but don’t have the capacity to care full time for a child. But what they can do is show up at an office for a few hours once a month to play with and occupy a child who is going through one of the most desperate times of their lives. I have never heard of something like this existing in Perth, but I think it is a great idea!
From here, the department staff will grab a bag if it is available with some emergency supplies for the child and eventually they will drop of the child with a few bits and pieces to the family that has said Yes. There is a wonderful organisation called Operation Sunshine WA that creates Emergency packs that can sit in the Department office. Families, groups and churches can get a list of necessary items from them and make some up together.
Meanwhile, an Emergency Foster Family has lead with a Yes and is now pulling themselves up of the couch. Turning the show they were watching onto Record and finding the box of size 3 girls clothes that is somewhere in the garage. They are reworking sleeping arrangements to ensure the child is somewhere safe, but also not to near the other sleeping children in the house because you can never be to sure how the child will present. Bottles are being washed and dummies found. Cupboards are being locked a quick run around to childproof.
An excitement to meet this small person but a heaviness of heart because of the need to.
The next hours and days will test that ‘lead with a Yes’ philosophy in many ways. However, I truly believe, that you will never regret the decision to love in the hard times.
There is a difference to Leading with a Yes and Knowing when to say No, but perhaps that will be left for a blog for another day.