Stephanie Vinson, Good Shepherd’s (GS) Foster Family Recruiter, is passionate about finding new families who have the love, patience, and commitment to open their hearts and homes to children who need them.
There are about 13,000 children in foster care state-wide and not nearly enough foster families. The biggest issue right now is simply finding a safe, loving place for these children to live and thrive.
“The need is just so great,” she said. “There were a few nights when I worked with the Children’s Division that I spent the night in my office because I couldn’t place a child.”
In her role as a recruiter for GS’s Fostering Faithful Families, she visits churches in the Archdiocese to talk with parishioners about the joys and challenges of becoming a foster family. She provides information and answers questions about fostering and how individuals and families of faith can get involved.
She is typically at church to greet people before and after Mass, but she also sometimes gets invited to attend special church events and to write for church bulletins. “I take whatever they will let me do,” she said.
Stephanie helps people understand that children being placed into foster care need love, structure, and grace because they have often endured trauma. She reassures foster families they will get the training and support they need to be successful. She also counsels them to be patient with themselves.
“Some of our new foster families are afraid they will do something wrong,” she said. “It’s really fun to see them grow from that and to have confidence.”
Stephanie also recruits families and individuals for support roles like babysitting during support-group meetings, providing meals for new foster families, and assembling backpacks with things a child might need such as pajamas or a stuffed animal.
Many foster families and adoptive parents have described their role as a calling and a way to practice their faith. GS’s Fostering Faithful Families collaborates with Lutheran Family & Children Services and One Heart Ministries in a mutual effort to engage the faith-based community in support of foster families.
When Stephanie talks to people about fostering, she emphasizes how rewarding it can be. “You see these kids’ lives change for the better,” she said. “They see somebody giving them love. Even if they’re having a hard time, they get that people are loving them. The more people who love a kid, the better.”
If you would like information about fostering or volunteering in a support role, or if you would like to invite Stephanie to speak at your church or your next event, you can contact her by phone or email: 314-854-5716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.