What makes a good foster parent for children in need?

What makes a good foster parent for children in need?

Who makes a great Foster parent?

Making strong Foster parents make strong families for our children in care

Foster parents play such an essential role in a child's life! They come from various backgrounds, and all have different reasons for what led them to become good foster parents. However, what makes someone an effective or "good" foster parent?

Empathy and excellent listening skills 

Being empathetic means that you can understand and share the feelings of another. Ways to show empathy with your child include:

  • Acknowledging their pain.
  • Expressing gratitude to them for being vulnerable.
  • Showing a genuine interest.
  • Being supportive.

Being a good listener shows that you care about your child and their experiences. It will improve the bond between you and your child. 

Perseverance when things get tough 

Being a foster parent will be challenging. Sometimes, your child may test your patience or engage in a behavior you do not condone.

They don't need someone who will give up on them quickly. Often, they have already had someone give up on them, and they may be expecting that from you. You must show them that you are there with them to the end, no matter what.

Flexibility and adaptability 

You can never predict what a child will do, so you must be flexible and adaptable when becoming a foster parent. Children may have difficulty adjusting to a new lifestyle, new foster home, and new foster family. Your foster child may want to keep the traditions they have while in foster care.

Many children that are in care may receive services such as intensive in-home therapy, outpatient therapy, or occupational therapy. You are responsible for ensuring the child is receiving their services. You may need to rearrange your schedule or depend on your support systems (family members, social services, etc.)

Patience and humor 

Being a parent will teach you that patience is a virtue. Foster children have experienced so much trauma and have various ways of expressing themselves because of this. There may be a variety of behaviors and emotions that a child in care goes through.

Being a foster parent requires patience. The first couple months may be rocky and an adjustment, but know that you are there to support the child.

Don't be afraid to find different ways that will make your foster child laugh and smile! It will help them cope with the hard times and see you as a safe person in their life.

Stability and consistency in your personal and family life 

Many children who enter foster care may not have had good examples of healthy relationships or stability. They may have grown up in an abusive household and have experienced domestic violence. They may have moved from place to place with their family.

Being able to provide a stable, loving, and nurturing environment and model healthy relationships is something that a child needs in their life.

An ability to guide and discipline children without the use of physical punishment  

Many children in care have been through much emotional and physical abuse. Engaging in or even threatening physical abuse is unacceptable as a foster parent.

Using a more trauma-aware method is encouraged. This method includes techniques such as reflection time, calm down corners, gratitude journals, or conversations. It's essential to teach problem-solving skills to your child during this time. Help them understand the differences between the appropriate way to handle the situation and the inappropriate way.

Being able to look after yourself emotionally and staying well 

Part of being a parent is being a role model for your child. Your child watches everything you do and learns from it, positive or negative. Showing your emotions healthily and appropriately is acceptable and encouraged while being a foster parent.

Engaging in self-care is also essential to ensure you're the best you can possibly be for your child.

A willingness to work with other people in the child's life

Working with birth parents and other stakeholders is very important as a foster parent. If the child has a goal of reunification or placement with a relative, there will be some visitation.

Visitation may be supervised or unsupervised. Family visitation is encouraged so the child can maintain a familial bond, making their return home more manageable.

Caseworkers, social services, and others providing a service to your child (therapist, teacher, doctor, etc.) will play a significant role in your life. You all want what is best for the child. 

A willingness to support the child to develop a sense of identity

Maintaining culture, language, and religion is vital to all foster children.

As their role model, you must ensure that a child develops a sense of self. You must ensure they make morally correct decisions and maintain a positive mindset for their culture, language, and religion. 

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