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I am strong, intelligent, determined, focused, funny, sassy, and energetic. Well, at least that is how my family and friends describe me. I specifically asked them to describe how I was as a teen and young adult, as opposed to now, over 20 years later, and their answers were much the same. I can remember how I felt back then, and I believed all these things about myself (perhaps because I was lucky enough to have family and friends who wholeheartedly believed those things, too). I also knew I was loved and supported by my family and friends and that if I confided in them that I was in trouble, they would have done anything they could to help.
It is that time of year again. High school football teams are playing with an intense passion, hoping that their team can still make the playoffs, NFL teams have found their rhythm and are working their way through injuries, and people of all types have embraced a bold and bright pink as part of their normal wardrobe.
The cooler weather brings with it the occasion of dressing up in costume. Some people do this on Halloween, and others dress up to go to their local church’s fall festival. Wearing a costume can be quite exciting. If you are anything like me, once the costume begins to take shape, my personality becomes that of the character I am portraying. It only happens once a year, so I make it count.
My wife, Joy-Lynn and I became Foster Parent Mentors (FPM) through Heartland for Children in 2012. When we were approached with the opportunity to be an added support for incoming Foster Parents, we jumped at the opportunity because we saw the value in having someone who other Foster Parents could relate to as being an invaluable resource; especially, if the individual(s) were completely new to the fostering and/or parenting experience.
As FPMs through Heartland, we've had the chance to interact with incoming Foster Parents on many levels including assisting with respite, providing guidance or best practices with difficult behavioral issues, advocating for a child who had to be moved from one home to another, making recommendations on working with case management, providing another vantage point through the process of Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), and many other areas that Foster Parents can encounter during their first and continuing years of child advocates.
What we've gained as FPMs is a heightened level of understanding of how important it is to identify the needs of incoming Foster Parents. Being able to make recommendations on how the training component has and can continue to successfully equip incoming parents with the proper training and education; is a value add that Heartland has really welcomed input on.