find it here.
so many organizations and churches out there whose sole purpose is to assist foster children, fostering families, and youth aging out of care with scholarships for summer camps, clothing assistance, help during the holidays, providing initial placement necessities, etc. Ask your caseworker, CASA, or your church if they know of any or search the internet specifically for "organizations supporting foster children in ______ county." You might be surprised what all you can find!
Organization skills- With the never-ending mountain of paperwork, appointments, logs, and notes that foster parents must keep, it is sooooo important to find an organizational system that works well for you. Keeping organized is one of the best things a foster parent can do in order to maintain their sanity. It took a little while, but I finally developed a routine that works great for me (see the link above). Now when a caseworker calls to ask seemingly random questions like, "How many visits has Bug had with his grandma?" I can quickly look it up and respond. Don't invite more chaos by becoming overwhelmed by the paperwork. Routine, routine, routine! Trust me! You won't regret it.
Questions - Don't be afraid to ask questions! Ask questions before accepting a placement. Ask questions throughout your children's cases. Ask questions about birth families. Ask questions if a situation arises that you are unsure how to handle. You might not get an answer, but you'll never know unless you ask.
Send important email correspondence to multiple people at once - It never fails. I can email a caseworker ten times a day for a month, mark it as "Urgent," bribe with chocolate and Diet Coke and not get a single response until I decide to copy multiple people on my messages. It's amazing how quickly things get accomplished when you've emailed the caseworker and copied their supervisor, your agency, your child's GAL, CASA, etc.
Transportation assistance - As a single, full-time working foster mom I know that I am simply not able to take off work to transport to/from visits. I tell the placement workers up front that I will need someone else to transport to/from visits. While different agencies and counties have their own policies regarding foster parents providing transportation, my county has always provided transportation for my little ones' weekly visits because they know before even placing them with me that they will need to do so. I do try to transport occasionally so I can talk to the birth family and answer any questions they might have, but for the most part, my county has workers who transport and supervise visits for foster parents who need help in that area.
Vocalize any major concerns, but learn to let go of the "small stuff" - As foster parents, we have to learn to accept that everyone has different standards when it comes to parenting. What might be unthinkable to us might be perfectly normal for our children's birth parents. I would never in a millions years give my 3-month-old Kool-Aid and goldfish, but wouldn't you know, your baby returns from a visit with exactly that in his diaper bag. Your first instinct might be to immediately tell their caseworker, but you know what? The caseworker is going to say, "At least they are feeding him!" Learn to voice major concerns (like when Bug came back from a supervised visit reeking of marijuana which ultimately led to a random drug test and ceased visitation upon the results), but try to look at the big picture when it comes to minor concerns. No, they might no parent the way we would, but if it's not a behavior that would result in removal from the home in the first place, don't work yourself up over it. Lead by example when you can, but learn to let go of the "small stuff."
WIC eligibility - I had no idea that my little ones were automatically eligible for WIC until another foster parent asked why I wasn't using it for Booger Bear. He had already been with me for eight months at that point! Since then, I've utilized my kiddos' WIC benefits until they turn one year old. Saving $150 or more a month on formula and baby food is a huge blessing and worth the slight inconvenience of having to go up to the WIC office once every three months. I haven't ever used it after my little ones have turned one, but I probably would if I had several children who qualified.
|And that's just PART of the CLOTHES!|
Emergency Behavior Intervention..." I believe I have taken that particular class at least six times now, and I have never had to use a single thing. I foster infants and toddlers. Any "therapeutic holding" that I do is of the "rocking to sleep in the rocking chair" persuasion.
Z... Um, yeah. I can't think of a "Z" so I'll leave you with another "Y" - You won't always attach to the children who are placed with you... and THAT'S OKAY! Don't beat yourself up for not feeling that instant bond with a baby. Don't let yourself get down because you can't seem to connect with an older child in your care. What matters is that these children feel loved, safe, secure, wanted, and cherished while they are with you. Sometimes the bond of love grows softly over time. Other times, it might never fully develop, and THAT'S OKAY! It is okay to say "no" to adopting a child with whom you don't have that connection. By saying "no," you are giving that child an opportunity to find a permanent place with a family who does. I believe that all long-time foster parents have been in this situation at one time or another, and are often afraid to admit that they don't feel that attachment... As though something must be wrong with us and if we just try harder, that bond will come... I have learned over the years that my feelings are absolutely valid and shouldn't be taken lightly or overlooked. You won't always attach to the children in your care... and THAT IS OKAY!
And there you have it... Tammy's words of wisdom (for what they're worth ;-) and what I have learned over the past five years as a foster (soon-to-be adoptive) mom.