5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Foster Parent

  • March 5th, 2021
  • By Pathway Caring for Children

1. You can be part time!

Have you always wanted to help, but think you don’t have the time?

Respite foster parents give a much-needed break to our foster families by spending time with the children in their homes.

Respite foster parents open their home on a short-term basis. This could be 2 hours, a weekend, or a couple weeks. You still go through the online training and become fully licensed, but respite is planned and works around your schedule for when a child is welcomed into your home.

2. Understand a child’s past.

Foster children have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, and come from hard places. Always keeping this in mind when the tough days come allows you to show compassion and patience.

Children carry their past with them at all times. Trauma, often that you may not even know about. This affects their thought process, behavior, and ability to form relationships.

These habits based on past experiences do not go away easily, they can’t see or think past it. You may tell the child you love and care for them, but if they’ve never been shown love before children do not know what you mean.

3. Build a network of support.

You are not alone in your foster care journey.

We provide you with training, skills, and tools before welcoming children into your home as well as 24/7 support from our foster care staff.

But, also be sure to network and create friendships with other foster parents during training. There is nothing like talking to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. More seasoned foster parents can offer mentorship and advice to new incoming foster families.

We have a foster parent support group that meets monthly, as well as a closed Pathway foster parent Facebook group. Both of these allow our foster parents to connect with one another, talk through joys and challenges, and share resources that have been helpful.

4. Have compassion for bio parents.

The goal is always reunification… until it’s not. And sometimes, they just don’t know how to be parents.

Their own childhoods may not have been caring and nurturing. They were not taught how to change a diaper, or even have a basic understanding of proper nutrition.

The goal is always reunification. Be mindful of this when the foster child might go for a supervised visit.

A piece of your heart may be given away when they go home. Fostering could be a bittersweet experience, but know your love and support has made a lasting impression on a child and they will be forever grateful for you.

5. Advice from a former foster child.

An excerpt from Together We Rise, a national organization supporting foster youth. https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/things-foster-parents-should-know/

“I am a former foster child. My suggestions or advice would be. Don’t think I am like everyone else. I am not just what those forms say, I am not what those social workers say they only know me from quick visits not from the day-to-day basis. Mostly, I have been through more abuse than what I got taken away for. I am scared! But I also need space, at times I might need a hug but I don’t know what a cuddle even is.

Please be patient with me I am struggling to understand feelings and they are scary. It’s ok to be strict with me. Teach me basic skills like sewing, crochet, art, cooking, etc. Not only will this help me when I emancipate but it might also become my coping mechanism and by you teaching me these things I will forever carry you in my heart (whether I admit it or not).”