Thursday, July 17, 2014

Responsibilities of Foster Parents

From the following site:

Foster Parent Responsibilities Goal: To provide nurturing care to abused and neglected children until they are able to be reunified with their natural family.

Responsibilities to the Child:

• To provide a safe and comfortable family environment for the child.

• To provide for the child's basic physical and emotional needs as you would for your own child.

• To ensure that the child attends school; monitor educational progress; be aware of special needs; express appreciation for accomplishments.

• To provide appropriate clothing.

• To attend to medical and dental needs including regular checkups as well as attending to other special needs of the child - i.e. educational, therapeutic, etc.

• To help and guide children through the grieving and adjustment process that accompanies the removal from their families.

• To help maintain a realistic relationship with their families through participation with visitation and active consideration of the children's feelings. To assist children in preparing to return home or being moved to a permanent adoptive home.

•To provide recreational, enriching activities that will promote the healthy development of children.

•To maintain a record of their time in care, developmental milestones, photographs, report cards, etc.

•To provide consistent and realistic discipline and guidance that is age appropriate and does not involve corporal punishment of any kind.

When becoming a foster parent you don't really know what to expect.  You know that they will be responsible for a child.  You will be helping a child.  Notice that the list doesn't say to love the child.  Some people think that if you show the child enough love they will be fine.  It isn't that simple.  I find that love doesn't heal everything although love sometimes makes things bearable.  To be honest, there have been some children in my home who I didn't have that loving feeling for.  Still, I was able to provide everything that they needed. 

Foster children aren't looking for our love, most of the time they are looking to go back to their family.  We have only had one foster child who did not want to go back home and we adopted her.  Most children want to go home in spite of abuse or neglect.  Their connection is so strong with their biological family.

That is why trying to maintain a realistic relationship with their families through participation in visitation and active consideration of the child's feelings is so important.  However, there are some cases where this is just not possible for safety reasons. 

In Anthony and Larissa's case they were totally against us even meeting the father.  After a few months of bringing the children in the back door and leaving out the back I decided that I was just going in the front door and meet them in the lobby.  That father who was so angry as DSS for stealing his children was so polite with me.  When we meet him a short while ago he was still respectful towards us and acknowledged to the children that we are their parents.  Sometimes you just don't know.  We visited for three years before TPR was granted.  When we met up with the mother she was so excited to see all of us she hugged us.  There was a time during the visitations that they had to pull Larissa off of me to put her in the visitation room.  Her mom and I met 30 minutes early and sat in the lobby face to face with Larissa between us.  We were trying to get Larissa comfortable with going with her mom.  We worked together to make it less of a traumatic experience for Larissa.

Some parents I have met and they never wanted to talk outside of DSS.  However, some parents are more open.  Some we meet at the McDonald's across the street from DSS on non visit weeks to maintain their relationship.  On facebook I have friended previous foster families as well as current ones.  I offer support to the parents while the kids are in my home and after they go home.  Many days I have conversations going on with more than one family through the power of private messaging.

With my current foster baby I communicate through cell phones.  Just yesterday I sent her a video and several pictures.  I tell her what he likes and dislikes.  When he goes home I want her to be able to provide the best care for him and to know what he likes.  It is in his best interest for us to communicate.

When communicating I keep in mind the safety of our family and the children.  Lets face it, if you have older kids the family will know your full name and phone number, most likely the address as well.  With little ones this is easier to keep private. I also realize that not everything that they tell me is the truth.  It is the nature of the system.

Our last longer term foster kids are home and doing well.  I talk to their mom often on facebook.  The kids have asked to come back for a visit so they came to spend the night.  The kids all had a great time. 

Larissa even shared her bed.

The two little ones stayed one night.  Their teenager sister stayed three nights and wanted to stay longer.  We couldn't get her to go home.  She said that she was enjoying the break from her siblings.  I think she was also enjoyed the pool.

With each new child who enters our home we have no idea where it will go.  It may be a short term placement where we never develop a relationship or a longer placement where a relationship may or may not develop..  I have come to realize that when we do develop a strong relationship with the parents the case has a better outcome.  Perhaps it is because when the parents are willing to develop a relationship with their child's caregiver, they are more likely to complete their case to get their kids back.

I know other foster families read this blog, what are your experiences with the biological family?

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