Have You Thought About the Child of Divorce and Childcare? – Part 2

imageLast week, we looked at the importance of good quality child care for children of divorce and children in single parent families and some things a church can do in terms of helping parents to ensure that their children are getting quality child care when they can’t be there. This week, we are going to look at more things that your church, and the members of your church, can do to help ensure the valuable resource of good quality childcare is available to the single parents in your church. It is important to those parents and it is essential for the proper development of their kids.

What Can Your Church Do to Assist the Child of Divorce and Childcare?

What can the religious realm do to strengthen the next generation of parents that are being raised in childcare? There are several areas that local churches can do to address this situation:

  • Start a childcare in your church building.
  • Support quality childcare programs that are currently in existence in your community.
  • Educate and train childcare staff in your community.
  • Minister to and assist single parents that use childcare.
  • Celebrate and encourage the childcare worker.
  • Advocate for quality early childhood and quality school age programs in your area.

If your church already has a childcare program, collaborate with those teachers and workers to create a cohesive environment for children from divorcing homes. Get the single parent’s permission to do this. Explain that it will be beneficial for all programs to create a continuous continuum of care for their child.

Support Childcare

If your church does not want to open a childcare program, or is not in a position to open a childcare program, then support the quality childcare programs that are already in existence in your area. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  1. When you are having training sessions for your children’s church workers, invite the staff from local childcare facilities to attend.
  2. If your church has a gym, recreation center or indoor play yard, lease or loan it to local daycares to be used on a rainy day or during school holidays when school age children are out of school all day. (Be sure to check with your insurance company in advance.)
  3. Create relationships with local child care facilities, and encourage the members of your church to volunteer to provide extra ‘hands’ for those facilities. There are a number of ways your members can help. You may have to get creative, but here are some examples:
    1. Volunteer rockers: Childcare programs sometimes just need people to come in rock the babies
    2. Readers: Older adults can volunteer to read to children.
    3. Grandparent Role Models: Many children in childcare do not have access to their grandparents.
    4. Substitute: Retired schoolteachers or stay at home moms could assist by being on call to fill in when a caregiver is ill
    5. Handyman: Find men, and women, in your church who can paint and repair equipment. These types of services are much needed and can be costly to the childcare facility.
    6. Quilters and Seamstresses: Find talented church members who would be willing to make warm blankets and quilts for infant toddler children.
  4. There are many other tangible ways your church can support local daycares including:
    • Sell or give used office equipment (such as a computer) to a childcare that provides care for single parents in your church.
    • Send out-of-date magazines on family life to a childcare so they can distribute them to the parents in their programs

Educate and Train Child Care Staff

To work effectively with children that are from single parent families, child care staff must develop empathy and sympathy for these children. Educate childcare teachers about the grief process children experience and then teach them to set up their environments to accommodate the stages and phases of grief and losses.

Educate childcare staff on the typical developmental stages of growth in children and the effect of stress on typical growth. Here are some basic facts to get you started.

  • Many of these children miss out on developmental levels, and need to go back and work through that stage of development again.
  • Some of these children may get stuck emotionally at the chronological age they were when the parents separated or divorced.
  • As a result of stress related to the divorce, the physical, skeletal and muscular development may be stunted in these kids.
  • The child wants the caregivers to control their external world when the child feels like they have no control internally.

Also, educate staff on attachment issues. Childcare staff must bond and attach with the children under two years of age. If they don’t, these children will not be able to trust adults in their lives, and this will lead to life-long problems. Poor quality childcare is one of the leading contributors to Reactive Attachment Disorder. These are the children that grow up with breaks in their bonding process.

Children will attach themselves to substitute caregivers if their parents cannot spend time with them. When the adults in their lives continually disappoint them, the children will attach themselves to their physical surroundings. The ideal situation for the child of a single parent is for the childcare worker to enhance and add to the relationship between the single parent and the child.

Advocate For Quality Early Childhood And School Age Childcare Programs

Dianna Garland in her book Precious In His Sight, writes:

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice when He could do something about it.”

“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”

That is my question to you today. If we don’t advocate for children from single parent families, who will? What is being modeled for these children? And how will it affect their ability to parent when they become adults?

“Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others.” Philippians 2:4 (HCSB)

Children are living messages we send to a time we will not see. What message is your church sending to the future?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the area of children and divorce. She developed and created the DivorceCare for Kids programs. DC4K is an international program for churches to use to help children of divorced parents find healing within the arms of a loving church family. As a speaker, author, trainer, program developer and child care center owner, Linda has assisted countless families by modeling and acting on the healing love she has found in Jesus Christ. More great articles about how to successfully minister to the child of divorce in your church can be found at Linda’s website Healthy Loving Partnerships for Our Kids (HLP4) [http://www.hlp4.com]. Linda also offers support, encouragement, and suggestions to help single parents and those working with single parent children. She can be reached by e-mail at Linda@hlp4.com.