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Monday, April 18, 2011

Foster care training 101-thoughts of the week

  • Unlike the model of foster care and foster parenting in the past, today fostering is really a team project.  Foster parents are expected, and indeed it is their responsibility, to work as part of a large team to best help the child.  Other members of the team could include the child's social worker, lawyers and/or attorneys, CPS, CASA volunteers, and the child's biological parent(s).  Bio parents are not the adversary.  Bio parents are inherently part of the child is.  It is in the best interest of the child to not only maintain but develop good relationships with bio parents if possible.  If at all possible, foster parents should also develop a relationship with bio parents.  These relationships help the child.  This could include joint trips to the pediatrician, visits to your home for family dinner, and enabling and assisting your foster child in maintaining and growing a relationship with her birth mother and/or bio family.  Although these relationships aren't always possible, if possible they should be encouraged and developed even after the foster family adopts the child.  
  • Children from hard places often need parenting that looks different.  It can look so different, that it often looks "wrong" to folks who do not know the circumstances.  This resembles adoptive parenting in many ways.  
  • 1:2 foster families will eventually be reported (and thus investigated) for child abuse and/or neglect.  These allegations can come from birth families and foster children among other places.  We have been taught to expect to be reported as a part of fostering.  As a part of being investigated, our bio children will likely be taken out of class and questioned... without our knowledge.  {Now that's the kind of stuff they don't tell you on day 1 of foster-parent training!} 
  • Most children placed in foster care believe that healthy families never fight, argue, or have conflict.  They will likely have no healthy skills to resolve disputes.  Then these children can be surprised, angered, overwhelmed, shocked, disappointed, and/or scared when they with a foster family that does have normal disagreements.  
  • Our foster classes culminate in a huge homework assignment that lasts approximately 5 hours.  There have been smaller homework assignments throughout the classes, maybe an hour a week, but I am dreading this last one.  Papa and I have completed about the first 5 minutes worth.  Although this assignment won't be "graded," it will be reviewed for accuracy and content.  I hate homework.
  • There will be an "in depth" house inspection prior to licensing.  This is the home inspection that I was waiting for when we previously adopted that never came.  Previously, our prior case worker looked around our home a bit, at the pool fence, and introduced herself to our dogs.  But this new inspections will, among other things, include measuring the temperature of our hot water, examining extension cords, checking to make sure all medications (including all vitamins, OTC meds, and refrigerated meds) are behind a lock, ensuring that there is a working smoke detector in every bedroom, kitchen and living area, and practicing and documenting a home evacuation drill.
  • 9 out of 10 of our classes are complete.  3 of our 5 interviews are complete.  We are still aiming to be licensed and become active foster parents at the end of our summer break, most likely August or September.  Like the process of adoption, this process seems to be a lot of busy work in a system that moves as slow as molasses.  I'm feeling a bit useless these days.


  1. The finish line is in sight. Your an amazing parent and being given a chance to rightfully make that opinion I stand by it. Having the ability to become a foster parent and actually becoming one are two very big moves on your part and you deserve full credit, as does papa bear :D I do wish all goes well in the coming days for you and the family.

  2. My husband's parents adopted a sibling group through foster care many years ago. So many of the things you posted ring true. "Community" has become especially necessary as the kids reach their teen years. It is easy to judge different parenting techniques - all the more reason to have good long-term support! Blessings to you and your family as you gear up for this!

  3. Wow. That's a lot to take in. You have come really far though. Now I know why you cleaned out your sofa cushions ; ) .


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