Disrupting the Disruptions—Monroe Harding Foster Care Services
Disrupted! Disruptive! Disruption. These three words are a concise description of the experiences of children who land in foster care. Something has torn apart their family. The trauma may come from within the family or from forces outside. The family is disrupted.
In children, trauma frequently manifests itself in disruptive behavior. Losing their family and their sense of safety, security, and being loved shoves children into "survival mode," off balance and struggling desperately to regain their footing. Acting out is a frantic grasping for a steadying hand. Disruptive behavior is also an indicator of another change—in the brain itself. Unchecked, those changes have generational consequences. Often the young people in foster care have parents whose lives have also been previously wounded by trauma.
"Disrupted" and "disruptive" need disruption. Monroe Harding Foster Care Services steps up to interrupt the negative and help children and families heal and, when possible, to reunite and move forward positively. Key in that "disruption" are the volunteer foster parents. Currently through Monroe Harding, 45 families have opened their homes and their hearts to provide stability, security, and love. Research has shown that routine, that feeling nothing bad is going to happen, and a sense that someone cares all help the brain to heal and the disruptive behaviors to cease. The love and support that the foster families give make change possible even for the most traumatized.
Amy Bond, Monroe Harding's Foster Care Coordinator, prepares prospective foster parents and provides training and other support for them. The process may take as long as six months before receiving a child, but many of those 45 families have been fostering children for multiple years, one for 25 and another for 30. They've found great reward in doing so. With nearly 9,000 young people in foster care in Tennessee alone (and nearly half a million in the U.S.), more volunteers are needed. Countering a pernicious stereotype, Amy points out that foster parents don't get rich off the limited funds they receive from the state. Foster families are carefully screened, and the remuneration is only a minimal attempt to cover the extra expenses incurred by taking in a child.
Monroe Harding has been providing care for 125 years, first for orphans and now for the young people in foster care. They regularly see foster families open their hearts (regardless of the expense) because they know that their loving care is a needed and positive disruption for a young person and for generations to come.
For more about Monroe Harding, including other volunteer opportunities, visit monroeharding.org.
For similar programs in your area, search for “foster parenting.”