By Eleanor Beeslaar
Although foster care often involves temporary placements, foster parents can have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of the children they care for. Foster parents play an important role in cultivating growth, healing, safety, and comfort in the lives of foster children. They can help build a strong foundation, where children feel safe to explore and learn, aiding in positive development.
Foster parents also support children with any physical, social, behavioral, emotional, or mental health needs they may have. This may include supporting children who have experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect. In cases where children have such needs, foster parents engage in responsibilities, such as taking foster children to therapy appointments, doctor visits, and following any home-care instructions provided by professionals, such as doctors, physical/occupational therapists, mental health clinicians, etc. In addition to providing care related to specialized needs children may have, foster parents also ensure that children’s physical, emotional and nurturing, educational, recreational, and social needs are met.
Foster parents are also responsible for working with foster care agencies to ensure the child’s safety and progress. Foster parents attend required meetings with the agency or members of the child’s team (i.e. social workers/case managers), submit any required paperwork, and report information regarding the child’s progress. They must also participate in required trainings, which we will discuss more in tomorrow’s blog.
Another important role foster parents play is working alongside the child’s biological family. Foster parents maintain a supportive and non-judgmental attitude towards families and aid in the facilitation of visits and ongoing communication. Foster families can become a source of support for the families of the children they care for, and foster parents have a unique opportunity to model and facilitate healthy relationships for the child and their family. Finally, foster parents also play a role in the reunification process.
The most important role that foster parents play, is simply being a parent. Just like parents of biological children or adopted children, foster parents provide a safe space for children to grow and develop. They teach children important life skills, such as healthy communication, conflict management, problem-solving skills, emotion-regulation, responsibility, honesty, and much more. Foster parents help the children they care for grow into healthy adults and lead successful lives.
For more information about foster parenting and to learn how to become a foster parent, check out tomorrow’s blog, “How do you become a foster parent?”!