By: Haley Hisle
Those who provide care within a school and church setting spend a lot of time with children and adolescents and can have a profound influence. These people volunteer in many different roles to help look after children while a parent is in a small group or church service.
Heather Sewell, Ministry Development Director, speaks with many pastors and families caring for kids from hard places. “I am finding that churches aren’t always equipping children’s ministry leaders or even small group leaders well to care for parents of kids from hard places. But, I don’t think it is because churches don’t care about children or their caregivers. No, rather I think it is an issue of not knowing how.”
Okay, Define, Hard Place..
“Any child who experienced a traumatic birth, early medical trauma, prenatal stress or harm, trauma, neglect or abuse,” said Karyn Purvis, founder of Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development.
For those of us in church communities, for the sake of our community we must do a better job of understanding the wide array of children who have these backgrounds. This understanding will show us the need to care for these children and support the parents of these children in the church. By learning how to do these two things effectively, we will be better equipped to care for these kids that mean so much to us.
According to studies done by Focus on the Family and Empowered to Connect, the risk factors that characterize a child from a hard place can negatively impact a child in ways that will continue to affect them throughout their life. Children from hard places often experience:
altered brain development
ability to process sensory inputs
lack of secure attachment
heightened levels of stress and fear