Written by Foster Team
Being a good foster parent only has one requirement: to support a child in need to the best of your ability. There’s no limit to the number of opportunities you have as a foster parent to help your foster child. But experienced foster parents have plenty of advice for those who are interested in becoming foster parents.
Recently, we came across an article that shared one couple’s top tips for potential parents and chatted with WACF Executive Director Jill May about what they had to say. Below, we’ve compiled a few of their suggestions, along with some of our thoughts for foster parents to consider. Let’s take a look.
1) Send update letters/pictures to the biological family, if possible
“It’s important to connect with a biological family to understand their child’s routines, food restrictions, allergies, and other helpful information. While a picture or a letter may be all that you can do, promoting more contact is great. Invite the family to meet at the park, perhaps have them over for dinner or finding other ways to connect,” says May. Fostering connections wherever possible helps maintain the goal of reunification between children and their biological families.
2) Never talk badly about the biological parents
May also cautions foster parents about ways you may indirectly criticize a child’s biological parents. “It’s about being aware of the reasons a child was removed from the home. If you’re talking about relatives struggling with alcoholism, and your child was removed because of a similar reason, that can be a trigger for a child,” says May.
3) Make them feel at home
When a child is in your home, remember that being removed from their parents and being placed in your home is scary. Be sure to introduce a child to your home, so they feel comfortable in their new space.
4) Maintain routines
Being in foster care can make children feel like their world is turning upside down. Sticking to established routines, like going to school, playing sports, or seeing friends, helps them feel a sense of stability and security.
5) Remember that every child has different needs
Just like foster parents themselves, every foster child comes from a different background, a different family, a different home. Being conscientious about a child’s individual needs can go a long way in building trust between you and your foster child.
6) Have a sense of humor
Foster care imposes a lot of stress on kids and their parents. Finding ways to laugh is not only a great way to lift everyone’s spirits, but it’s also a powerful way to connect with your child and make them feel understood and supported.
7) Be flexible and adaptive
Any parent, foster or biological, will tell you that looking after a child requires an open mind and the ability to adapt quickly to new situations. Be prepared for some curveballs and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
8) Love unconditionally
When you offer a child a safe and supportive home, you’re offering them a world of love. Don’t forget why you’re doing this, or what it means to your child to have you in their life. There’s nothing more important.
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