How Foster Parents Strengthen the Community
by Susan Ripley, Director of Foster Home Licensing
Over twenty-one years ago, I started working in the field of child welfare, and previous to my first experience, I never really knew what foster care was. Many foster parents themselves perceived their role to simply be the ‘place’ a child stayed when they couldn’t live with their own parents. The child welfare professionals didn’t seem to disagree with this and we began to see a disconnect between a “community” and the parents that needed help within that community.
Today, our foster parents are highly skilled volunteers that work in partnership with biological parents, case managers and other child welfare professionals to ensure that while the children are away from their parents, the parents still feel supported and connected to their children. One of the many myths I have heard over the years is that every child in foster care is in need of an adoptive home.
This is not true, as most children in foster care are successfully reunified with their parents.
As with many grassroots ideas, when the community stands for something as a whole, the results seem to benefit the community. Foster parents play a big part in community strengthening by providing safety and stability for our most precious asset: our children. We train our foster parents how to co-parent, which is working in partnership with the biological parents to ensure that they remain a big part of the child’s life while out of the parents’ home. This can be done as minimally as friendly notes to the parents in a diaper bag or backpack when the child goes on supervised visits with the parents, letting them know how the child is doing in school or what milestones they may have reached. They may initiate calls at bedtime so the parent can read a book to a child, and some of our foster parents even take it an extra step and invite the parents over for dinner or celebrations, or invite them to join their family for a weekly church service.
Do you have fears about fostering? Are there things you have heard that you’d like answers to? Let’s start the discussion!
For more information on foster care and to register for our next Foster Parent Information Night or Training Series, call (863) 519-8900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.