At the beginning of most foster care placement, the goal is reunification between the foster child and the birth parents. Foster parents are on the frontline in fostering the steps toward reunification by involving the parents in the care of their child. This process has many names but is often called co-parenting or shared parenting.
Children feel more secure when they see both their foster parent and biological parent working together. When done well they feel less divided loyalties and their behavior may improve. Co-parenting smoothes the way for whatever final permanency decision is made for the child regardless of whether it is reunification or adoption.
It is tempting to villainize or dismiss the birth parents for the mistakes or struggles that ultimately resulted in the child being taken into foster care. And co-parenting (shared parenting) will look different if safety issues are involved, but the goal is for foster parents and birth parents to work as a team to help the child cope with all the changes that are happening in her life.
Creating a Family has many resources to help foster parents in the task of Co-Parenting with Birth Parents in Foster Care. Here are a few we think you will find particularly helpful:
- Supporting Reunification as a Kinship Caregiver (blog post)
- Helping Family Visits Go Well (blog post)
- Partnering with Birth Parents in Foster Care (1 hr. radio interview w/ experts)
- Interview with Sarah Sentilles, author of Stranger Care (1 hr. radio interview w/ author)
- Talking with Young Children About Adoption and Birth Parents (1 hr. radio interview w/ expert)
- Panel of Kinship Caregivers: What’s it Really Like? (1 hr. radio interview w/ panel)
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.