Archive for Foster Children

Foster Parenting – What’s Stopping You?

(Again…This is an adapted version from my agency that I wrote:  www.ctfostercareadoption.com )

  What’s Stopping You?

Addressing the Common Fears of Becoming a Foster Parent

By Anna Goodworth, CRI Recruitment Specialist

 

            We know that becoming a foster parent is a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly.  However, we also know that while there are many important factors to consider in making this decision, some of these factors are easily surmountable with mere information.  Many, if not most, fears can be subdued by understanding the situation that you are walking into and the support that is offered to you in foster care.  Let us walk into this topic and address some of these fears together:

Fear #1 – “It seems like such a long process and a lot of paperwork”

It is true that you can’t become a foster parent overnight, but the process can be viewed as a preparation process.  Not only do we need to verify that our foster parents will be safe parents, but we need to provide training for parents.  This is to provide parents with a base of information about foster care itself, the services that we provide, and effective behavior strategies targeted for children with very difficult pasts.  The paperwork and process can seem overwhelming if you look at it all in one chunk, but if you just take one thing at a time, then it flows quite easily.  Do the first thing first.  Gather your questions.  Consider the wait as part of the preparation of your home, your life, and your family.  It is a time to educate yourself.  The next step will present itself.  If you have questions about anything, including the process, just ask us.

Fear #2 – “I don’t have the money to support another child.”

            Money should never be a deterrent from taking in a foster child, as you will receive a monthly stipend for room/board and normal life expenses.  However, just to address the topic, it should not be used as an income to meet unmet budget needs in your life.  Though it certainly isn’t wrong verify this stipend will be more than sufficient for the child being in your home, foster care is a 24 hour job and requires so much more heart, energy, and mind than a normal “job”.  Foster parenting is a gift you are offering to a child, to give them a chance at healing, the possibility of success and a glimpse of life beyond some of the abuse and struggles they have experienced.   You will never be able to put a price on what you are doing…never.   We can’t pretend to do so.

Fear #3 – “I don’t want outside people in my home, judging my parenting, telling me what to do.”

            Your social worker is there to support you, not to tell you what to do.  It is true that social workers must ensure that any court-mandated instructions are carried out,  but they are designed for the best interests of you and the child.  However, overall, he/she is there to offer you extra services, a voice of encouragement, a word of praise, an ear for listening and to offer you extra services.  You will be given support from therapists and social workers who have had extensive experience with foster children.  They WANT you to succeed.  No one is in your home to pick apart the way you are doing anything.  They want everyone to feel empowered and encouraged and successful.  Soon, you will become an advocate for the child, as part of the team to help the child heal and grow.

Fear #4 – “I don’t know if I have the time or energy for a foster child.”

This is definitely a good thing to consider.  Depending on the needs of the child, there are varying degrees of how much time and energy will be required of you.   However, you can always step into this process WHILE you are still figuring out how it will all work out.  Should you find that respite care (short term/emergency foster care) is a better option for you, then that too is an amazing gift to foster children and other foster parents.  Should you find that this isn’t the right time for you, then that is totally okay.

 

Fear #5 – “I don’t feel qualified to take on someone else’s child, especially any child with any extra needs.”

While it is essential to be always gaining skills in parenting, there is no perfect parent.  The fact that you are considering this as a possibility for your life is a sign that you are on the right path of a generous, caring parent.  All parents are in a learning process and all parents have something different to offer.  We work very hard to match children with parents to secure a good fit, as well as give you initial training about that specific child.  Continual training is also at your disposal through your agency and cooperative agencies.  Your social worker visits you and your foster child once a month for DCF cases or once a week for therapeutic cases.   He/she is always available to you by phone.  The social workers help you with any issues that come up, help answer questions, and work to make your placement a success.

As far as being eligible to be a foster parent, you need only be at least 21 years old, have an available bedroom in your home, and have a criminal background check free of abuse.

Fear #6 – “What if it gets too hard and there are situations that I can’t deal with on my own?”

Should you choose to foster/adopt a child through DCF, your child will be assessed according to her needs and given the extra care he/she needs through extra behavioral support services that DCF has contracted with.  You can call your social worker with any questions and you can always call emergency numbers you are given.

Should you choose to foster/adopt a therapeutic child through a contracted agency outside of DCF, you will have access to all the behaviorists, nurses, and on-call systems within that agency.  This more intensive support is due to the fact that child has already been identified as having extra behavioral or medical needs and is therefore, put under the care of the therapeutic agency able to offer that support.     

Fear #7 – “I’m nervous I won’t make a difference or be able to help that child.”

That is pretty much impossible.  By merely offering your home, you are making a difference.  By offering support, compassion, and structure to get that child to their services you are doing even more.  By opening your heart to love and guide that child, you are forever impacting and redeeming part of that child’s life.  You WILL make a difference.             

Fear #8 – “If I do foster care, I’m scared I’ll get too attached and not be able to give the child back.”

Foster care is parenting with the intended goal to return to their biological family in a healthy, functioning manner.  This is definitely difficult for any foster parent and will be painful and confusing.  However, the care you offer that child is invaluable and though it is a painful gift to give, it is a beautiful gift to give.  You can get on the path of foster/adopt if you know that you might like to adopt a child.  In this case you will be placed with a child with the greatest likelihood of being legally free for adoption.

Fear #9 – “I still have too many questions about the process and how it would fit in my life.”

That is what this process is all about – getting questions answered and stepping more and more into it as you feel comfortable.  Ask away!

Fear #10  – “What if I start this process and change my mind.”

You can always change your mind and starting the process is the only way you will know if you want to commit to it.  It is expected that most people starting this process are still getting their questions answered and have many things they are working through to see how foster parenting fits into their life.  You are free to change your mind at any point in the process about if you want to do foster care, foster/adopt, respite care, wait for another time, or just find other ways to help foster children.

 

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Foster Children – ANYONE CAN HELP THEM

I am blessed by a per diem job as a foster care recruiter under a great boss from CRI in Connecticut who gives me the freedom to make some extra handouts that could be helpful for anyone who may be interested in helping foster children in many ways.  I have made handouts specifically for my agency – for therapeutic kids – who have been through more abuse and neglect and therefore have more behavioral or medical needs that need support and help.  I have also made handouts for more general foster care.   I will attach a handout for general foster care since this blog crosses many state lines as well as my organizations’ blog which has additional resources..  www.ctfostercareadoption.com :

 

We can ALL help FOSTER CHILDREN in big and small ways:

  • Collect and donate needed items:  filled diaper bags, small toys, diapers, wipes, school supplies, backpacks, formula, baby food, birthday presents (toys for kids, gift cards for teens), crafts, shoes, clothing..  This can be done individually by families, by big “back to school drives”, by “adopt a child” at Christmas, etc.  You can also “Adopt a Social Worker” who will notify you of the unmet needs of abused and impoverished children. 
  • Organize an event:  A Garden Tea, A Spa Day, A Mini-Sports Camp, Birthday Parties for kids in shelters, Holiday Parties, etc.    The possibilities are endless!  What is your niche? 
  • Do a “Foster-Parents’ Night Out”:  The more foster parents feel supported and taken care of, the longer they will continue to do foster care and the better care they can provide.  Churches and other community centers sometimes have the easiest resources to rally this!
  • Volunteer!  Foster kids need mentors to teach social skills and have a role model.  They need tutors to help them with learning difficulties and make them feel successful in school.  You can become a Guardian At Litem (a volunteer advocate for children in court).  You can volunteer at a children’s home with countless needs.  Just contact us and we’ll give you ideas!
  • Provide a Job!  Teenage foster children need skill sets and job opportunities.  The economy may not lend itself toward offering jobs easily, but the rewards of knowing you advanced a child’s skills, opportunity, and confidence will. 
  • Become a respite foster parent:  This is getting a foster care license and providing respite care for other foster parents while they go on vacation, need a break or for emergency care.  Though children would only  be in your home for a short period of time, but it is a greatly needed help.  Respite workers are given a financial subsidy, but the work is definitely more about the mission of helping both child and foster family. 
  • Donate your resources:  This can be from donating your services (hair stylists, lawyers, teachers, mechanics, home repair) to foster agencies for their own use.  You can donate services or items for fund raising auctions that support foster children.  Of course, donating your money and raising funds in your community is also greatly needed as well.   Even donating sporting event tickets and other special items can be an amazing gift. 
  • Spread the word!  You are the greatest advocate for the stories you hear about these children.  If you work for a business, there are many ways to include you in spreading the word about the need for foster parents as well as how anyone can help foster children.   Simply spreading the word to friends, families and communities about the options out there to become involved is important.  It both keeps everyone aware and compassionate to the plight of these children, but also serves to generate more great ideas to help them. 
  • BECOME A FOSTER PARENT!  This is definitely the most sacrificial, but rewarding option on the list.  Many have gone before you to be a part of restoring the lives and hearts of thousands of children.  We will be with you every step of the way…every frustration, every fear, every joy, and every triumph.  Please consider it…now…or just tuck it away in your heart and see what happens.  Ask questions.  Get on a mailing list.  Ponder what you could do. 
  • Break and mold!  Come up with something totally new. Just contact us and we will brainstorm with you!

 

 

 

 

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