Part Three: The Agency’s Perspective
Foster Parenting: The Inside Scoop A Four-Part Series by Diane Goodemote, Director of Quality Assurances and Compliance
Part Three: The Agency’s Perspective
I’m So Glad You Answered!
Attending an orientation at an agency feels like a big step in the decision to become a foster parent. At Child and Family Charities, we aim to create a no-obligation atmosphere and a safe environment for potential foster parents to ask questions and take the necessary time they need to consider applying to be a foster parent. We provide examples of what the journey might look like, give some general timeframes on what to expect and provide resources. But we always say that there is no guarantee, because that is the truth.
As well as not being able to guarantee a child for a foster parent, the same is true of a child in foster care—we cannot guarantee they will have a foster parent when they need one. The reason is simple: we need more foster parents!
At the point Child and Family Charities becomes involved with a family, a crisis has already been identified. A child, or children, will need a place to stay, away from their biological family, for safety reasons. Imagine for a moment a caseworker has received information about a 12-year-old girl, in need of a home. This girl also happens to be the oldest in a sibling group of 3 children. She has a younger sister age 7 and a little brother age 3. This young girl is described as sweet and bonded to her siblings. Her entire history and background (with the exceptions of her physician or known allergies) is likely unknown to us at the point of placement.
The agency begins to make phone calls to foster family homes who have open capacity based on the ages that they are willing to foster. Many of the foster family homes the agency has are filled with other foster children. Those with openings may be limited in how many children they are able to accept in their home according to the terms of their license. These factors and others may result in placing the children separately from each other, splitting up the closely connected children. Our staff may go through 10 or more calls to find a placement for even one of the set of three children, and another 10 for the other two.
The availability of homes might also impact which of the children will even be placed in a foster home that evening.
It’s not uncommon for agencies like ours to struggle finding a place for a child if they are over the age of 8 years old! Older children (and youth), especially those in a sibling group, are particularly affected as they have often been involved in the care for their younger siblings and now those roles too, are disrupted. This type of placement adds another layer of trauma that didn’t exist before removal.
Child and Family Charities recognizes that working with a variety of individuals and families who will consider foster parenting will broaden the network of available homes to children coming into foster care. Being able to recruit new family homes when prior foster parents have met their capacity or have even adopted from foster care and no longer have space for more children is an ongoing task. Recruiting families who are willing and able to provide for a sibling group can reduce the unavoidable impact that foster care brings by creating further separation due to the lack of available homes.
Recruiting families who will foster older children, sibling groups and even older youth is a priority. We are seeking parents who will invest in teaching the foster children in their care life-skills and possibly create lifelong connections and even mentorships that can change the course for a family or be the healing step in stopping a cycle of abuse.
Child and Family Charities will always have room for families interested in becoming a foster parent and we are ready for you. If it’s not the right time or maybe the right decision, spreading awareness about the need can still make the difference to a child in need. Thank you!