Not all foster parents have the same experience with fostering; fostering children usually differ from one parent to another. No two children are the same, even if they are twins or siblings. If you are looking to foster, then you’ve come to the right place.
At Courage Community Foster Care, we will be discussing how to deal with the challenges of being a foster parent. If you want to learn more information, then make sure to continue reading below. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be able to face all the challenges and are still be willing to help foster kids that need placement.
Each child that finds themselves at your doorstep may bring with them different challenges. As a foster parent, you should keep an open mind and be flexible with each foster child that you care for. Each child may have a different experience, personality, and culture. Learn more about the most common challenges that foster parents face daily as well as some advice on how you can overcome them accordingly.
1. Licensing process – Depending on the state you are in, foster parents are required to undergo a thorough licensing process. The process may vary, but most of the time, the foster parents are required to undergo a background check, attend classes, accomplish a home study, and make sure their homes have passed the licensing standards.
The home study process may include a lengthy interview about the foster family as well as their financial capability and upbringing. This process is necessary as it proves that the foster parents are capable of providing a safe home for the child and that they have stable health and finances, which will be needed to give the child a good home to grow up in. Some of the training courses that may be needed include CPR and First Aid certification and CORE training.
2. Behavior and emotional challenges – Children in foster care have undergone different experiences, dealing with abuse and neglect from a young age, but the main thing that they have all experienced is that they have been removed from their birth families.
Most children who are in foster care typically experience behavioral and emotional problems. This may mean that they will require therapeutic sessions and discipline strategies that will help them manage their behavior and emotions. The usual strategies used for other children may not work well for them so specialized training for foster parents is required so that they will have the knowledge to handle specific issues with their foster children that may include ADHD, aggression, reactive attachment disorder, depression, etc.
3. Managing with traumatic experiences – It is not uncommon for foster children to have undergone traumatic experiences, so as a foster parent, it is your responsibility to help them manage their emotions and well-being. Let them know that you love and care for them and support them so they can heal from their trauma. Handling another person’s trauma can be extremely difficult and troubling, so as a foster parent you must be resilient.
Each foster child may have different traumatic experiences and their approach to dealing with them can differ as well. For you to help your child to overcome it, you should listen and adapt your care according to their needs. Know what works for them and how they respond to things. Use this information to help them grow and heal from their trauma. Fostering a child is a learning process and it will take a lot of effort and time, but know this, the reward will be well worth it.
4. Visits from the birth family – Child placement agencies like Courage Community Foster Care have the primary goal of reuniting the foster children with their birth families. Visits with the birth parents or siblings are usually scheduled to take place in a neutral and supervised location where a social worker can oversee their interaction.
It can also be held in the birth family home especially if a family reunification will happen. The visitation schedule can affect the foster family’s routines. Visits can take place up to several hours in a day and throughout several times a week. Inconsistent visits can also occur, like birth families that do not show up to the scheduled visits or showing up unannounced in a bad physical or emotional state which can disrupt the scheduled visit.
Foster parents have to deal with the results of the visits when it is suddenly canceled or if the visit didn’t go well. The foster kids may experience emotional distress if their family visits did not go well. Being separated from the birth parents until the next visit can be extremely difficult, especially for younger children. Foster parents are sometimes required to transport the kids to their visits and visitation schedules may change without any notice. These are all responsibilities that you have to be prepared for with foster children.
5. Time management – Being a foster parent requires proper time management. Caring for a child will require a lot of planning and accuracy, and in addition to that, you will also have other responsibilities to handle for the sake of your foster child. You have to attend meetings with the child placement agency, complete documents, and collaborate with social workers. A schedule of the meetings and appointments will have to be kept so that you can keep track of everything and keep it organized.
6. Rules and Regulations – Each state has a different set of rules and regulations for foster parents. The rules can be a bit restrictive for some families and it may take them a long time to be accustomed to it. Some examples include the proper storage of alcohol and medication inside a locked storage box or cabinet, or foster children may not be allowed to go on an overnight visit or slumber parties to other people’s homes, and sometimes they are not allowed to go on boats.
Foster children are usually not allowed to go out of the state, so out-of-state vacations are not going to be in your schedule any time soon. They will not be allowed to be left alone with a family member or a friend, and have to be placed in a licensed daycare only. Sometimes, they are allowed to go to other people’s homes without a background check, but when attending a party or play date, the legal guardian appointed by the state will need the address and names of the other children’s parents.
7. Recurrent appointments – Most foster children have special needs which normally would require appointments. They may require doctor visits, speech and occupational therapy, psychotherapy sessions, medication management, etc.
Many children in foster care usually have had their healthcare neglected for a long time, so they may need more frequent visits with the doctor and dentist at the beginning of their stay with you.
As a foster parent, you should have a flexible schedule so that you can be present for all the appointments. Foster parents are usually responsible for transporting the children to and from their appointments. This can be a challenge for some foster parents that have full-time jobs.
8. Obtaining permission from legal guardians – Foster parents are not the legal guardians of the foster child. This means they are not allowed to sign legal documents. A state-appointed guardian must be the one who will sign the forms for the doctor or provide permission for the foster child to go on field trips and other recreational activities. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach the child’s guardian, especially on weekends or holidays, so this can make your role even more challenging than it already is. Make sure to remain patient and understanding, especially for the benefit of your foster children.
9. Coordinating with birth parents – The end goal of fostering is to reunite the children with their birth families once it is beneficial and possible to do so. When the birth parents can resume care for their children, the foster families must facilitate contact with the birth family.
The assigned social worker will help organize contact and will be with you to offer support and guidance throughout the process. This can sometimes be a difficult process to go through if the birth parents feel resentment towards the foster parents and are not cooperating with the process. As a foster parent, you should deal with the situation with an open mind and be as patient, understanding, and accommodating as you can.
10. Saying goodbye – When a foster child is scheduled to return to their birth family or is being adopted, saying goodbye can be quite difficult for everyone involved. Sometimes, foster parents are not able to maintain contact with the child that was in their care.
This can cause stress and sadness for the entire foster family. If the foster family has younger and smaller children, they may not be able to understand the situation and may experience difficulty managing feelings such as grief with the loss. So as a foster parent you must be emotionally and mentally strong enough so that you can cope properly once the foster child needs to go back to their family or be adopted by another family. You do not want your foster child to experience any distress when they finally go home with their forever families.
Being a foster parent is not easy, but with a good agency by your side, you can accomplish great things and help make foster children feel the love and acceptance of a loving home while waiting to be reunited with their birth family or be adopted into a good family.
If you are planning to foster a child, you should place your trust in a placement agency like Courage Community Foster Care to help you with the process. You can read about our foster family’s testimonials here and check out some of the frequently asked questions about fostering and adopting here. If you want to know more about the process you can also contact us by filling up this contact form here.
If you need help and you want to learn more about how to become a foster parent, you must check out Courage Community Foster Care. We are a private child placement agency based in Colorado USA and are licensed by the Colorado Department of Human Services.
Our mission is to help facilitate foster care for children who are not able to live with their birth families because of various reasons. Since 2012, our agency has been helping foster kids to find a placement. If you want to know more about our agency or the services that we are offering please do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us by calling our phone number 719-321-4319 or you can email us at [email protected] If you have the heart to help foster children, please contact us so we can help you with the process as soon as possible.