Becoming a foster parent is a rewarding and sometimes overwhelming undertaking. If you're considering taking in foster children, the process for approval can be lengthy. Once you are qualified, though, you might feel a little bit like you're on your own. The good news is that you don't have to be. There are many resources out there for support, guidance, and tips to help foster parents navigate this new responsibility. Here are some of the resources that every foster parent should take advantage of.
Child Development and Trauma Education
Continuing education is important for foster parents. When you are part of the foster care system, you receive children from a variety of situations. Many of these children come from traumatic backgrounds and you need the skills and knowledge to reach them and help them heal. Trauma education and child development fundamentals will help prepare you to be a better foster parent in these situations.
Community Counseling Services
In many foster care placements, your social worker will likely recommend that the child start counseling right away. Counseling services provide foster children with a neutral third party they can talk to, work through emotions with, and address trauma responses with. This is important for the transition into your home to be less stressful and overwhelming for the child.
Foster parents often feel isolated, and social workers are frequently overworked and difficult to reach unless it's an emergency. That's why every foster parent should reach out to their community and build a peer support network with other foster parents in the community. That way, you can lean on each other as you build relationships with the children in your care, face new and different challenges, and try to figure out how to navigate the process.
The state typically places restrictions on who can be responsible for children in the foster care system, so you may need to work with your social worker to identify a respite care service. Having respite care is essential because you will need the opportunity to take time for yourself, and you may need someone to care for the child when you have doctor's appointments and other responsibilities.
These are some of the most important services for prospective foster parents to consider as they establish their support structure before seeking licensing. Talk with your local social workers today to see what else your foster care system looks for in the licensing process. For more information on services for foster parents, contact a professional near you.