Working as a Part of the Foster Care Team
Foster parents are a crucial (perhaps the most crucial) part of the team of professionals surrounding the foster child and his family of origin. In many cases, it is the foster parents who will work most closely with birth parents and therefore can be most supportive of reunification goals. In the role of primary care-giver, they can play a significant part in supporting the child’s relationship with the birth parents.
The foster parents’ first priority is to provide safe and nurturing homes for the child. To help him grow, learn, and process the events that resulted in a foster care placement. When appropriate and permitted, foster parents can create a sense of partnership with the child’s birth family that invites them in to also learn and grow with the goal of returning the child to his home of origin. That partnership with the parents can be as simple as facilitating visitations but can also be as relational as mentoring to build healthier parenting skills and other necessary life skills that may be part of the reunification plan.
Additionally, when foster parents build strong, clear communication and team work with the child’s case worker(s), they can more effectively advocate for the child’s best interest. This kind of collaboration between the foster parents and child welfare staff can help to give the child a security and continuity to his personal story and his parents’ progress through the steps to reunification. If reunification is unlikely, the foster parents can also be valuable to the team’s efforts to create a permanency plan for the child.
Creating a Family is committed to supporting foster parents as they learn to fill these roles. Here is one of the most recent resources we have published on the topic of Working as Part of the Foster Team:
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