Friday, October 25, 2013

The Importance of Foster Parent Connections

Foster parenting is a wonderful way to help children and families in your community. Along with the feelings of accomplishment comes a host of challenges. There are often feelings of defeat and struggles that come with the lack of control over the long term decisions made about the child in your care. Because these challenges are so great, support is important for your emotional well-being and success. Very few people truly understand the life you live as a foster parent and the tremendous challenges it poses for your family.  Because of this, appropriate sources of support are less plentiful than we wish they were. 
Foster parents are required to attend pre-service training, prior to licensure. This is the prime opportunity to make friends and form your own support network. These families will be in the very same situation you are in and will understand your feelings as well as anyone. There are many opportunities for in-service (which is required). Again, take advantage of that situation and collect names, numbers, and email addresses for those you come in contact with. Be selective, not everyone will provide the positive support you are seeking. There are support groups in the local counties, some more active than others. Checking with your licensing staff for specific dates and times will assure you are connected. There are informal types of support that are very helpful as well. This support often comes from friends, family, and the foster care agency staff and online chat groups.
Whatever avenue you choose to obtain the support you need to continue this worthy journey through foster care, always be cognizant of respect and confidentiality for the children and families you serve. 
Karla Hurrell and her husband fostered for 23 years. The Hurrell’s, recently welcomed their eleventh child, Rosko Jeremiah. Karla provides contract training for local Children’s Division offices and has just begun her own business, I HEART FAMILIES. She is anxious to support foster and adoptive parents. Her email address is .

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