Foster parents are a crucial part (perhaps the most crucial part) of the foster care team of professionals who surround 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 caregiver, 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 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 teamwork with the child’s caseworker(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 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 foster care team’s efforts to create a permanency plan for the child.
Creating a Family has many resources on Working as Part of the Foster Care Team. A few recent ones that we think you will find particularly helpful are:
- Advocating for Your Foster or Kinship Child at School (article)
- What Surprising Thing Did You Learn Your First Year As A Foster Parent? (article)
- 7 Things Foster Parents REALLY Want You to Know (article)
- 23 Crucial Questions to Ask at Foster Care Placement Meetings (article)
- Partnering with Birth Parents in Foster Care (1 hr. podcast w/ experts)
- A Talk with Sesame Street about the New Foster Care Muppet (1 hr. podcast w/ expert)
Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the many additional resources we have for Working As Part of the Foster Team, in the form of blogs, radio shows/podcasts, tip sheets, fact sheets and expert Q & A’s.