Fostering the Family

Foster parents Dave and Jessie do more than take care of children and youth--they care for birth families, too.

Dave:  “We got involved in foster care with we thought to help kids in need of help. I don’t think either of us realized, and even with her working in the field, realized how much we can help the parents by modeling behavior that they were never taught.”

Jessie:  “Many of the families, if not nearly all of the families of the children that come to us, they have so little support.”

Dave:  “Foster parents, as a general rule, are very connected. And so you can throw a question out saying, hey, I’ve got a kid that I think needs speech therapy, what do I do? And those are things that when you have a support network, you’re able to do.

“And one of the things . . . that a lot of the birth parents . . . they don’t have that strong support network. They don’t have people that they can call and ask those questions. We’re able to have conversations with parents about, you know, when your child does this, here’s how we respond to it. And it’s been positive. And when they’re open to it, they go, ‘I never thought to try that.’ And then they try it. And then so we get some credibility is knowing what we’re talking about a little bit. And it helps build those relationships.

“From, from a birth parent’s perspective, you know, we’re part of the system, and so part of my talk with them is to try and disarm them and say, you know, look, here are the things I’m going to promise you. I’m going to do everything that I can to make your child feel safe, secure, and loved. And I don’t know what you did that caused your child to come into care. And it’s none of my business. So we don’t have to talk about that. You’ve got a set of things that you need to do for your child to come home. You work on those. You want to share those with us, we’re happy to help you with that. And you don’t have to worry about us trying to undermine you or take your child away. I’ve got kids. We’re doing this just to help out so we can either work together or we can not. But I’ll tell you if we work together, your child is probably going to come home a lot sooner than if we don’t. And I’d like you to be on that train with me. That’s up to you.”

Jessie:  “Kind of look at it as we’re not just fostering the child, we’re fostering the family, the whole family.”



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