Kashrut is one of the first obstacles that I considered when I began trying to reconcile my long-standing desire to be a foster parent with my more recent Jewish observance. Some of the key questions: How to maintain kashrut in the house? Does the foster child eat treif at school? Will I buy treif for the child outside the home?
I can tell you the answers that I have come up with. Are they the only answers? No. But they are what I've decided, in the absence of the real world experience of having a child living with me. I'd love to hear your answers as well.
Maintaining my kitchen's kashrut: I don't even let my kosher-keeping friends in my kitchen. So what am I thinking inviting a child who doesn't have the same commitment to kashrut to live in my house and have open access (at least age-appropriate access) to my kitchen? It's that parenthetical that is the key to my response. I've decided to limit the age of children who I foster to those who shouldn't have unsupervised access to the kitchen--and who hopefully aren't used to having that kind of open access. I've decided that age is 7, maybe a few years older for kids with developmental delays. I'll work on labeling things better, and probably use parve implements less and less. House rule #4 (what are 1-3? not sure yet): blue goes with blue, red goes with red.
School: Any time the child isn't with me, he or she can eat what everyone else is eating. Kashrut isn't a value; it's merely a practical consideration in the home. The child living with me isn't Jewish (if the child is Jewish, that will change things...but the chances of that are infinitesimal in a system where "the vast majority of kids in the system are African-American, and a few are Latino") so there is no reason to separate him or her from his or her peers.
Eating out: In an ideal world, we'll only by kosher food. Will this work in reality? That remains to be seen.
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