Working With Birth Parents in Foster Care
At the beginning of almost every foster care placement, the goal is reunification between the foster child(ren) and the birth parents. Foster parents often take on a primary role in building a relationship with the child’s birth parents that facilitates not just visitation but often also making progress toward the goals laid out in that reunification plan. It can very tempting to villainize or dismiss the birth parents for the mistakes or struggles that ultimately resulted in the child being taken into foster care. But by choosing to get to know the birth family and to support them as they work to restore their family, the foster parent is doing an important job and putting the best interest of the child first.
Unless there are safety issues involved (those can and should be discussed with the child’s caseworker), it’s important that foster children feel supported in that relationship with their parents. Even when there has been trauma in the home, the children still often feel great love and concern for their parents. The foster parent who can prioritize the child’s needs while still facilitating a relationship with his parents is giving a great gift to that child. All members of the child’s welfare team will benefit from getting to know each other well, learning from, and respecting one another for the sake of the child.
Creating a Family has resources to help foster parents in the task of Working with Birth Parents in Foster Care. Here are a few we think you will find particularly helpful:
- 6 Concrete Tips for Co-Parenting with Your Foster Child’s Birth Parents (blog post)
- The Single Biggest Obstacle to Co-Parenting in Foster Care (blog post)
- Relationships with Birth Parents Who Struggle With Addiction (1 hr. radio interview w/ guest expert)
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for many other types of resources that Creating a Family offers in the form of blogs, radio interviews/podcasts, tip sheets, fact sheets, and Q & A’s with experts on the topic of Working with Birth Parents in Foster Care.