Written by Washington Foster Team
Stop for a moment and think about the first big decisions you made in your life. This may have been to start a family, buy a house, or make a career switch. Before making this decision, you likely talked to friends and family with relevant experience, to see if they had any advice before you made your final choice.
Prospective foster parents often can’t expect good advice from family and friends because they don’t always have a background in foster care. And while there are lots of resources online about the process of getting licensed, nothing can compare to the recommendations and real-life stories from fellow foster families.
In a recent article, Huffington Post asked veteran foster parents what they thought families should know about the system before getting licensed. Here’s what they had to say, along with insight from our experience helping thousands of families become successful foster parents.
Despite the short-term realities of foster care, it’s important for foster parents to love the child as if they were their own. Children may be coming from homes where they were neglected or abused. When foster parents demonstrate their love with patience, children thrive.
Even though your foster child may not be biologically yours, it’s still important to do the best you can to create a bond with them. This helps them feel more comfortable and safe, and provide a sense of family when they need it the most.
Successful foster parents stockpile a wealth of patience for children, caseworkers, biological parents, and themselves. They spend time with their child, help establish a stable routine, and work to learn about the effects of trauma their child might be experiencing.
They also recognize the burden of caseworkers to coordinate and manage dozens of foster care children, families, and biological parents at the same time. Plus, they put aside frustration toward parents so that they can offer support to help parents reunite with their children.
“Working with parents can seem like a challenge, but agencies will support you and give you an opportunity to speak with a parent that has had their children returned home,” — Jill May, Executive Director at WACF.
Foster care isn’t easy for anyone, but patience and compassion unite everyone toward a common goal: a safe, stable, and loving home for every child.
Prepare For Questions
In addition to the questions you’ll have to answer about your background, family history, and experience with children as a part of the licensing process, prepare for questions from your friends and family.
Be open about your decision and help educate others. You might even inspire someone else to become a foster parent.
Find Support And Be Prepared To Let Go
Foster parents take care of a child at a time when their biological parents are unable to provide a safe and stable home. But it’s not permanent.
Whether you have a child for a few months or a few years, reunification is always the goal, and foster parents work with biological parents, children, and agencies to support that goal.
Prepare for the eventuality of reunification, find support groups that you can rely on, and never hesitate to reach out for help. Letting go of a child that you’ve loved and supported is always difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Learn more about the support resources available to foster parents, and get a full description of the licensing process by downloading our free resource: The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State.