Meet Josh and Stephanie Sanders. Already a family of eight, the Sanders recognized the desperate and growing need for foster families. They knew that they had more love to offer – opening their home to short-term care in Oregon and then to long-term foster care upon moving to South Carolina. In 2019, they adopted their two teenage daughters.
Stephanie calls herself a “fighter.” She is willing to go to great lengths to advocate for a child. But she knows she can’t do it alone. It is connections in the community that make a difference, that really offer true wrap around care for a child or youth – a volunteer mentor who meets weekly with a young person seeking independence, a teacher that offers additional tutoring after school for a child who is not meeting grade level standards, an incredible Guardian ad Litem who is the voice of the child in court.
The message – we can all do something for children, youth, and families impacted by foster care. You may not be called to foster in your home, but surely there is something you can do. It is the responsibility of every community to care well for their most vulnerable.
Stephanie, a breast cancer survivor, says that their family has experienced absolute hell over the years, but she would do it all over again. They are currently a family of twelve with six biological children, two adopted, and two currently in foster care. Despite the incredible needs of the children currently in their home, the family makes endless sacrifices to provide love, care, and seek desperately needed services. Stephanie tells us about 21 appointments in 23 days for the new sibling group in her care. She recalls, with humility and patience, the 63 separate meltdowns in one hour.
Foster parenting can be an isolating and lonely experience. There are often challenges and uncertainties that leave foster parents overwhelmed. The reality is that many foster parents quit within their first year of fostering due to challenges; research tells us the turnover is as high as 50% of families. Chelsey Warren, the Connie Maxwell Foster Care Specialist that serves the family said, “being a foster parent is not without its challenges and the Sanders approach those challenges with grace, love and humility.”
Interested in supporting this amazing foster family! Josh and Stephanie are the May 2022 Foster Parent recipients of the Local Foster Care Innovator Award from Fostering Great Ideas. You might consider purchasing an item off their wishlist. Want to support a foster parent in your life? Ask them to choose a night and bring over a pizza party (ask about allergies first!). Many foster parents will appreciate not having to cook dinner (or clean up), but they may appreciate your company and some adult conversation even more!
Nominate someone you know as our next Local Foster Care Innovator.