Three Strands: A Church-Based Approach to Supporting Reunification and Family Preservation

In the last episode of A Fostered Life podcast (Episode 11), I introduced you to Tonya Foulkrod. Our conversation covered a lot of ground, so I broke it up into two parts. In Episode 11, which was Part One, we heard about Tonya’s early experience as a foster parent and how she and her husband became involved with the mother of the child who was placed in their care, leading them to start a ministry focused on offering a more holistic way to support families in crisis.

In this episode, which is Part Two of our interview, we learn more about  what Three Strands does and how their community approach to supporting families in crisis offers struggling parents wraparound support to help them gain skills and cultivate relationships that significantly improve their chances of reunification.

Be sure to subscribe to A Fostered Life podcast so you don’t miss a single episode!

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, recommended reading, youtube videos, and social media links all designed to help foster parents feel more equipped for their foster care journey. It’s my prayer that no foster parent ever feels like they’re going at it alone.

If  you enjoy this podcast and you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go to afosteredlife.com and click on the tab “Support My Work.” That will take you to my Patreon page, where you can become a patron of the podcast and YouTube channel. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents. I’m so grateful for the support of my patrons. I also give a few perks to my patrons, so please head over to Patreon and check it out.

If you’re a foster parent who is feeling like you’re out there on your own, consider joining The Flourishing Foster Parent, a community designed to encourage, equip and connect foster parents.

One more thing, if you’re enjoying this podcast, please take a moment to rate A Fostered Life on iTunes. It would help me out so much. Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

Be sure to subscribe to A Fostered Life podcast so you don’t miss Part Two or any other episode.

Photo by Josh Johnson on Unsplash

From Foster Parent to Family Preservation Advocate (Podcast Episode 11)

Over the years, my heart for helping foster parents feel more equipped to support reunification efforts has grown. Recalling my own fumbling efforts to show support for the women whose children have been in my care over the years, I know how much I could have used someone to show me the way. While it is not ultimately up to a foster parent to make sure a parent and child are reunified—the onus really is on the parent to do the hard work involved with reunification—I have learned over the years that there is a lot foster parents can do to encourage and support their foster child’s parent(s) as they move through the brutal stages of reunification.

In this episode of A Fostered Life Podcast, I speak with Tonya Foulkrod, a woman whose experiences as a foster parent led her and her husband to start an organization aimed at providing wraparound-type support for parents in crisis. Three Strands is a nine week, faith-based parenting program offered by local churches and volunteers to families in crisis. It is for parents who have lost custody of their children, or who are at risk of losing custody, and are working toward family reunification and preservation. In addition to parenting classes, participants experience home-cooked community meals and mentorship from dedicated volunteers who are trained in trauma-informed care. They have moral support in court and life-long friendships with people committed to helping their family stay together and thrive.

My conversation with Tonya was pretty long, so I’ve divided it into two parts. In this episode, which is Part One, she shares about how she went from being a foster parent who was intimidated by her foster child’s mom to becoming that mom’s biggest cheerleader and advocate. In the next episode, we’ll hear more about the work of Three Strands.

I hope you enjoy this episode, and if you are a foster parent, I hope it gives you some ideas and inspiration in how you might be able to support your foster child’s family.

Stock Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash. Note: the people depicted are models and not involved with Three Strands.

Creating a “Memory Box” For Your Foster Children

One of the things I’ve heard over and over from former foster children is that they often miss out on having keepsakes and mementos from their childhood, especially if they’ve been moved between several homes. Many of us take it for granted that we have baby pictures, grade school projects, and other mementos from our early years—but not a child who was in foster care. Sometimes, entire years of their lives are undocumented because of so many moves.

I remember when our first foster children arrived. I had every intention of maintaining nice scrap books for them. But then reality hit—there was no way I was going to keep up with a scrap book! So I came up with a different idea: Memory Boxes!

It’s been nearly six years, and I still maintain Memory Boxes for each of the kids who is with us for more than a couple of weeks. This past weekend, I had a chance to speak with a woman whose children were in foster care for six months (and have been reunified). She told me that it meant a lot to her that her children’s foster parents gave her photos and mementos from the time her children were away from her. Memory Boxes are not just for the children in our care—they’re for their parents, too.

Here is my (very simple) system for keeping track of mementos for each of our kids. This video is old (no, I didn’t cut my hair—this is what I looked like in 2015!), but it’s still my practice all these years later! The boxes I used in this video are no longer available, but these* would work well!

Hope you find it helpful!

*Amazon Affiliate Link