foster parent tips

Foster care in the news

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This is a monthly roundup of news and blog posts about foster care and all things related. Come across an interesting article we missed? Email us:

  1. Siblings in care should be kept together. Almost two-thirds of looked-after children with siblings also in the care system are separated from them.
  2. What it takes to be a foster parent. (video) Being a foster parent is a serious commitment. It’s something Isaac and Alisha Guadalupe know well. To date, they have fostered 11 babies.
  3. Shane’s story of aging out. (video) Shane tells his story with honesty and candor, reflecting on his experience as a foster child and the profound impact it has had on his life.
  4. Bennett Chapel–Saving Children. (video) Pastor William C. Martin and his wife Donna, of Bennett Chapel Baptist Church in Possum Trot, Texas, began by adopting several hard-to-place children from the foster care system. The Martins adopted more children, and members of their congregation followed their example.
  5. For years a father figure to many at-risk kids, Russ Sullivan now hopes to adopt 3 boys. Over the years, Russ Sullivan has been a guardian to nearly two dozen teenage boys. He is now taking on the task of raising three young boys whose mother died.
  6. Wanted (and needed): Home sweet home, at any age. As CCAI continues to celebrate National Foster Care Month and highlight the stories of older youth in foster care awaiting adoptive families, they are honored to share the story of one adoption professional who also bears the title of adoptive mom: Susan Stockham.
  7. Child welfare agencies offer targeted care to troubled kids. It used to happen dozens of times each year. A deeply troubled child would rage uncontrollably, and staff members would ride out the storm with holds and restraints.
  8. From hardship to hope. “Foster care is not fun for anyone,” says 24-year-old law student Amy Peters, who entered Nebraska’s foster care system at age 12 and remained until she “aged out” at 19.
  9. Three things you should know about foster parenting. We all know that the orphan crisis is a worldwide issue, but did you know that it is impacting children in your own community? The United States foster care system cares for thousands of children every year and as a result, the need for safe, loving, and supportive foster families is greater than ever. If you are considering the possibility of engaging this need through becoming a foster parent, here are a few things to consider:
  10. Famous foster children. Here is a sampling of people who were fostered or raised by someone other than their birth parents and grew up to be successful and famous.
  11. Giving boys a bigger emotional tool box. Is America’s dominant “man up” ethos a hypermasculine cultural construct, a tenet rooted in biological gender difference or something in between? Educator Ashanti Branch doesn’t much care or, more accurately, doesn’t have time to care. He’s too busy trying to make a difference in boys’ lives.
  12. 8 phrases foster and adopted children need to hear. Abandonment, rejection, hopelessness and helplessness are profound voices in the minds of children who’ve suffered trauma and loss. These are the echoes in their minds that form their identity. During the very critical years when a child should feel the most protected, loved and nurtured these children experience overwhelming loss and upheaval. Instability breeds uncertainty which develops into deep-seated anxiety and fear.
  13. Six things I’ve learned about adoption. While I certainly can’t give ‘advice’ as (or to) an adoptive mother, perhaps a few things I’ve learned can help others whose lives have been changed, blessed, and enriched in some way through adoption – or those who aren’t quite sure how to respond to a friend or family member who has chosen to adopt.
  14. Soup kitchens and word of mouth have brought Sharon Lockwood 37 godchildren. Her godchildren aren’t part of a formal mentoring program. They didn’t come to her through a church or a government mentoring group or a grant. But somehow, in a soup kitchen or because a friend of a friend introduced them, Lockwood forged deep relationships with more than three dozen kids, many of whom grew up in D.C. public housing.

  15. Orange is the new Black’s trailblazing portrayal of foster care. From “The Blind Side” to “White Oleander,” foster care has been grossly oversimplified in TV and movies, until now.
  16. HUD report explores options for youth aging out of foster care. Even though we’re all legally adults in this country at age 18, most Americans experience a longer transition into “practical adulthood” and economic independence. And for most of us that transition is supported, often financially, by our families. Many youth aging out of foster care, however, have no family support to rely on. For them, the transition to adulthood just happens overnight when they exit the foster care system, whether they’re ready or not.
  17. Monroe Martin: Finding the funny in foster care. Comedian Monroe Martin doesn’t shy away from any subject, which includes his childhood spent in foster care. Instead of dwelling on his past, however, Martin uses it, like everything else in his life, as material for his work.
  18. Donated cars put SC foster youth on the road to independence. Frazier is one of more than 70 foster youths in South Carolina who have received a free vehicle in the past four years through the On the Road Again program.
  19. Kids who age out of foster care need ongoing support, study says. Ivery Castilloux, 23, says he might have ended up living on the streets, or worse, had he not had support from Aunt Leah’s Link program that helps young people from foster homes land on their feet after they’ve ‘aged out’ of government care.
  20. Program helps L.A. foster youth become high school grads. Unlike most of her classmates, Alicia Rodriguez’ birth parents and siblings weren’t there to see her walk across the stage. Instead, her foster mother and sister were in the crowd, along with Aguayo and Hernandez, the Los Angeles County social worker and tutor who had helped her make it to graduation.

8 ways to prepare your children to welcome kids in foster care

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Are you considering becoming a foster parent? If you have children, you may wonder how you can best prepare them for the arrival of foster kids in their home.

  1. Discuss your intent to foster and your reasons for opening your home to children in need. When a mother is expecting another baby, both parents begin talking to their older child(ren) months before the due date, to prepare them for a sibling. Kids also deserve to know about children coming to your family through foster care, as far in advance as possible. And as you talk about your plans to foster, explain your reasons for doing so. Erin and Ryan Basch, parents of four children,  two biological and two through foster care, got involved with the system four years ago because of their faith. And they were intentional about explaining to their eldest, Emily, who is now 5, that they were taking in children because that is what Jesus called them to do. Erin admits that sometimes her daughter wonders aloud whether the family will foster forever, and then Erin acknowledges that indeed, loving children who have experienced trauma like those in foster care have is difficult, but she reiterates that Jesus loves these children and wants their family to open their home to them.
  2. Share some of what you’re learning through the training. Hours and hours of training is required to be approved as foster parents. Talk with your children about what you’re learning and encourage them to ask questions throughout the process.
  3. Explain that you won’t be able to give your child the same amount of attention as before. Any time a new child is added to the family—through fostering or birth or adoption—the other children won’t receive as much attention from their parents or relatives as they’ve been used to. But this can be especially true with children in foster care, who likely will need extra attention because of the difficult and sometimes traumatic experiences they’ve had, and because foster parents must take time to attend court hearings and meetings with caseworkers and birth parents. Time spent attending to the details of a case for a child in foster care is often time not spent with the other children in the home. Erin says that her preschooler struggled a bit sharing Mommy and Grandma. They’ve resolved that by designating special time with each parent, and arranging longer visits with Grandma.
  4. Encourage your children to share their feelings with you any time. Negative or positive,  feelings are important to let out in the open. Reassure your children that you welcome them to share those emotions. You’re there to help them process what they’re feeling, and you want them to undertand that anything they’re feeling is normal and not shameful.
  5. Talk about what your children’s relationship with a child in foster care will look like. A child coming from a traumatic situation might turn into a good friend, but he may not have the capacity for friendship at the beginning. Prepare your children to give the child space, both physically and conversationally. Children in foster care might not be comfortable with hugs, for example, or answering rapid-fire questions about where they come from. Also, teach your children the importance of confidentiality: even if the child does answer questions, that information stays in the foster home.
  6. Explain that discipline might look different for the children in foster care. Children coming into the home temporarily will be expected to follow the same rules, but because they may have suffered abuse in their past, they may not experience the same consequences for unacceptable behavior that your other children have come to expect. For example, you may spank your children for stealing, but foster parents are prohibited from using any punishment that involves physical discomfort.
  7. Talk about the kinds of situations that lead to children being removed from their families. When your kids start seeing children being brought to their home—and then removed again—they may fear the same thing will happen to them. Erin said her little girl expressed anxiety that someone would take her away. Erin and her husband explained to her that the children they were welcoming into their home had parents who weren’t able to be good mommies and daddies because they were making bad choices. But her Mommy and Daddy were able to care for her.
  8. Continually assess the needs of all the children in the home. If you have teenagers, for example, and they prove to warrant more of your attention at this difficult stage of their lives than you anticipated, you may be unable to provide the attention both they and high-needs children in foster care need and deserve at this time. Becoming foster parents might be an endeavor to pursue once you’ve helped your own children  conquer the challenging hurdle of adolescence.

The Internet has a wealth of information about preparing your kids for foster siblings. The tips in this post were compiled using the following sources: What to teach your child to prepare them for an adopted sibling; Preparing your children as you embark on the foster care journey; Preparing kids in your home for fostering

Other resources that might be helpful: Effect of foster care on birth children in the home; 6 foster care skills you need to know before becoming a foster parent; How does providing foster care affect children in your home?Brothers and Sisters in Adoption: Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family

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