Q: What are some techniques foster parents can use when working with the parents of the children they foster?
A: When a foster parent shares the nurturing of a foster child alongside the birth parents and caseworker, reunification tends to happen at a quicker and more successful rate.
It is important that you do not prejudge your foster child’s parent before you meet them. Indeed, your first inclination may be that these are people who do not deserve to have their child back. What is important to consider, though, is that many biological parents of foster children were abused themselves, and know of no other way when raising children. Also disturbing is that some birth parents were foster children, as well, and are just repeating the cycle they went through as a child. Certainly, there are reasons why their children are in care that we may never understand.
What is best for your foster child is that you work alongside your caseworker, as well as the birth parents, and try to determine what is best for your foster child’s future, as well as how to best meet his needs in the present. Answer their questions as honestly as you can and with kindness and understanding.
Let your foster child’s parents know that you are excited to have their child in your home for the time being. Tell them about some of the traditions in your home. Reassure them that their child will not only be safe in your home, but cared for and given plenty of positive attention. The more assurance birth parents have that their child is in a good home, the better the relationship will be between the two of you.
Dr. DeGarmo answers this question more fully in his book “The Foster Parenting Manual“.