Foster Fridays: Helpful Hints for New Foster Parents
During this difficult season, you probably keep hearing about what a great need there is about to be for foster parents. When children return to school after this current time of quarantine, it is predicted that the amount of removals will skyrocket. I'm sure many people are currently considering, or taking first steps towards becoming a foster parent. Thank you! You are needed! It's Foster Care Awareness Month, and we put together a few tips that have helped us at FLM greatly. Fostering is very much something you learn while you're in it, but here are some places to start. We've blogged about several of these points in more detail if you'd like to learn more.
*Find a foster/adopt support group ASAP. Parenting a child from hard places is going to generate questions and situations that your current group of parent friends may not be able to answer (or you would be too worried to ask about.) A foster support group will have knowledge and experience that will be critical to your mental wellbeing. Speaking of wellbeing...
*Self-care! As while on an airplane, if you're suffocating, you can't help others. Self-care looks different for everyone. Self-care is often advertised as self-indulgence, but think of it in terms of what will truly serve your mind and body.
*Become trauma informed. This can't be stressed enough. Learn about the long-term effects trauma has on the brain and body. We recommend the Empowered to Connect and general TBRI materials. It’s important to remember every child is different and trauma can look different in every child.
*Check in regularly with your biological children or children whom are already adopted. I would encourage talking about every step of the process as a family. In an age appropriate way teach older kids about trauma. Explain that consequences, boundaries, etc. may look different for different kids in the home. I once worked with a pre-school teacher who would tell the kids "Everything is not equal but everything is fair." Even young kids can understand this concept when given examples. If you sense that the children originally in your home are struggling, ask your case worker about respite options. A little break might be helpful for everybody.
*Focus on connection not discipline, especially in the beginning. If there's no connection, children with traumatic backgrounds won't trust you enough to actually recieve the correction anyway. We recommend the book The Connected Child to learn more on this.
What are some tips you'd pass on to new foster parents? We'd love if you'd share them with us on Facebook!