January 25th, 2008
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This is something that every foster parent needs to manage the stress and challenges that comes along with being a foster parent. When I first started fostering, I did not realize how important and what a necessity this is. While most of us have the family members and friends that are our normal daily life support system, we also need this with being a foster parent.

This means that your daily support system will need to understand some basics of foster children and be open about children that may have issues or behaviors. Truthfully not every family member or friend will understand the foster children and everything that comes along with them. This can lead to people questioning you parenting style, choices, and at times even your abilities to parent your foster children.

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The reality is that you will need someone to lend a helping hand to occasionally watch your foster children. Most likely family or friends will help when the need arises, and it will. You do not want someone to freak out because your foster child licks everything in sight, pees all over the bathroom or elsewhere in the house, or has complete meltdowns at the turn of every corner. People that could provide care for foster children will need to undergo a criminal background check in most areas if not all.

My sister became my respite care provider because she could handle most of my foster children. This can be a great opportunity for you as a foster parent so always keep this in mind as an option. Remember respite care providers will need to be willing to complete some training, paperwork and a criminal background check.

The extended support that I did not realize is doctors, therapists, dentist, hospitals, tutors, activities for your foster children, educational needs with children with different disabilities, school, church, etc. that also have to be a core part of your support system. I will be touching on the different support systems in the near future.

The important thing to remember is to start building your support system before your finish your training and continue build on what you have. Foster parents can always use help and additional supports.

More reading:

What Should I or Should I Not Tell Family and Friends About Foster Care

Extended Family Dealing With The Family’s Choice To Do Foster Care Part 1

Extended Family Dealing With The Family’s Choice To Do Foster Care Part 2

Photo Credit: Lanette G.

2 Responses to “Foster Parents Need a Support System”

  1. xxsurroundedbyxy says:

    What happens when you have no support?

    My family is willing to watch MY children while I run foster children to various appts. etc. but none have been willing to do the background check, TB test, and home visit required where we are. They didn’t sign up to foster and that is alot to ask.

    We have NO respite families in our county or surrounding counties either. We are allowed to leave our foster children with anyone we trust with our own (which we rarely use anyway) for a day trip etc. but would need emergency caregivers for any overnight stay or extended activity.

    My mother-in-law has offered to watch our two and the one foster child we currently have for Valentine’s Day so that my husband and I can have our first dinner alone in 3 months.

    We feel we may be spreading too thin over time. This has caused us to agree to one foster child at a time (or sibling group) and to take breaks between placements. It is our only way to take time off.

    The problem is, this particular current placement could be with us for years since neither parent is making effort to meet the plan and he will eventually be placed for adoption.

    What now?

  2. condo-mom says:

    I do just a little bit in this area, working with my friend’s 2 foster kids 2x per week after school. It includes tutoring, but we also fit in running around at the park, building with legos, playing with the dog and sometimes swimming in our condo pool. I’ve been told of other families that really need respite also — you are encouraging me to call them up !! — Rachel

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