Continuing on from Part One-
Expect not to know everything about a child- If you are the first placement of a child just entering the foster care system, often times the social worker will know very limited information about their trauma, behaviors, triggers, and health needs. Don’t be surprised if you will be the first to discover new things about the child along the way (such as them having allergies or reactions to certain triggers). As you find out new things about the child it will help you better know how to support them and advocate for their needs.
Expect to get tired- The added responsibilities that come with welcoming a new child into your home is no easy task. It requires a lot of energy and time, which at times you might feel that you have very little of. Don’t try to do it on your own. Reach out to your support system to lend a helping hand with things that will help ease some of your stress. After the child has had time to adjust and feel comfortable in your home, utilize respite and take opportunities for self-care and breaks. As you dedicate some time to take care of yourself it will only help you take even better care of your children.
Expect the case plan presented to you at time of placement to change- The day a child is placed in your home you will be informed of the current case plan and timeline by the social worker. Don’t hold tight to that plan. There are many unpredictable variables that determine the course a case will take and although the workers on the case will do what they can on their end to stick to the case timeline and plan, those can change with circumstances. There are many things that can shorten and prolong a case such as unforeseen relatives coming into the picture, the needs of the child, and how biological parents progress in services. No matter how well-intentioned the case plan may be at time of placement, there is no guaranteed way to know what the outcome will be and how long the child will be placed with you. Be flexible but also be transparent about your needs. If a child is placed with you longer than expected and it is taking a toll on your and your family ask for extra support from your agency, family, and friends. Fostering is best when done with a strong support system in place.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent(s), please e-mail our licensor Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get started!