TAGS: Foster News
Written by Washington Foster Team
It’s easy to forget just how much technology has changed in the last decade or so.Think back to 15 years ago. Facebook was something only college students knew about. There was no Twitter, no Instagram, not even iPhones. And video chat was rarely used beyond board rooms.
As tech shifted, so too did the world of foster care, which adopted these new tools to improve the way families talk, share, and communicate. In so many ways, tech has made it easier than ever to get licensed, find support, and help reunite families.
1. Tools For Licensing
One of the biggest challenges in foster care is finding and recruiting new families. In Washington State, there’s an incredible need for more diversity among foster parents, to represent the equally diverse population of foster children.
Today, social media is a powerful tool used to recruit new foster families, allowing agencies to reach more communities, cultures, and backgrounds.
Tech has also made it easier to get licensed. With certain agencies, it’s possible to apply to be a foster parent online and training is available through video, expediting the licensing process and making it easier for families who don’t have as much flexibility in their schedule or live in more rural communities.
2. Resources For Support
Foster parents rely on a strong network of support to provide the best possible care for children. But it used to be that reaching caseworkers, and even fellow foster parents, was only possible if people were in the office or at home to pick up the phone.
Today, foster parents and caseworkers can exchange a quick text or email to stay connected, even when they’re away from their desks. And, for fellow foster parents, private social media groups allow families to share stories, get support, and connect each other with resources.
Improved Paths To Reunification
One of the most critical components of reunification is arranging connections between children and their birth parents. In-person visits are always the best, but tech is creating ways to supplement those interactions.
Today, families don’t have to rely on phone calls and weekly visits alone. Kids can video chat with their parents at bedtime or catch up with extended relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to maintain cultural connections.
Foster families can text birth parents to ask quick questions about a child’s favorite food, and older youth can use online tools to search for parents they’ve lost touch with for years.
Tech, Foster Care, And COVID-19
One of the most powerful illustrations of tech’s ability to improve foster care is happening right now. Imagine if COVID-19 had struck 20 years ago.
There would be no video calls between children and parents, no support groups on social media, and very limited ways of expediting new foster parent applications without online tools.
While parents are isolated from their children, technology is allowing them to still speak face to face over the phone through video chat or FaceTime.
For foster parents, virtual orientation sessions and online education tools ensure they’re still learning how to create a safe and loving home for children even though they can’t step foot in a classroom. And, when they need help, virtual support groups are there to lend a helping hand.
Even during this incredibly hard time, tech is allowing foster care to be more supportive, more connected, and more diverse than ever before. Despite everything, we need foster parents now more than ever.
Start your journey to becoming a foster parent today. Download our free resource, The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State.