Working With Birth Parents in Foster Care (Co-Parenting)
At the beginning of most foster care placements, 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. Working with the birth parents has many names but is often called co-parenting or shared parenting.
Children feel more secure when they see their foster parents working with their birth parents. They feel less divided loyalties when co-parenting is done well, and their behavior may improve. Co-parenting smoothes the way for whatever final permanency decision is made for the child, 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. If safety issues are involved, working with birth parents (co-parenting, shared parenting) will look different. However, 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 recent ones we think you will find particularly helpful:
- Open Adoption and the Holidays (article)
- How Do You Manage Relationships with Birth Parents with Substance Use Disorders? (article)
- Working with Your Child’s Birth Family During the Holiday Season (article)
- Partnering with Relatives to Support Kinship Care (article for child welfare professionals)
- Navigating Sticky Relationships with Birth Families (1 hr. podcast w/ expert)
- Transracial Adoption from the Eyes of Adoptee, Birth Mom, and Adoptive Mom (1 hr. podcast w/ panel)
- A Guide to Raising Your Grandchild (1 hr. podcast w/ experts)
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for many other types of resources that Creating a Family offers in the form of articles, podcasts, tip sheets, and fact sheets on the topic of Working with Birth Parents in Foster Care.