3 Ways To Help Prevent Foster Parent Burnout
1. Know Your Limits
You need to establish your limits before you even have a child placed in your home. Children in foster care have experienced trauma, and as a result may have behaviors or other health needs that require extra care, this is especially true in treatment foster care. While it doesn’t take a superhero to be a foster parent or provide treatment foster care, you do need to make sure you are able to care for the children you welcome into your home.
At Intercept Treatment Foster Care, we work with you to help make sure the children placed with you are a good fit for you and your family and that you will be able to be effective caregivers. This is for your benefit, but also for the child. If foster parents cannot handle the needs or behaviors of a child and that child has to go to another home, it creates additional trauma for a child who is already hurting.
After a child is placed with you, knowing your limits will help you make sure you don’t take on more commitments than you can handle. Foster parenting is hard work, and you may have to say no to some things you did before in order to have the time and energy to devote to your family. That is OK. Disappointing someone who is asking you to do something is better than taking on too much and burning out.
2. Develop a Support Network
You will end up getting pushed beyond your limits at some point and you need to have a supportive community who can rally around you. It is important to not only have people you can ask for help, but to actually ask for and accept their help! Sometimes you may feel that asking for help means you are failing, but that is not true. All parents need help sometimes and foster parenting has additional challenges and emotional strain. It is important to accept help before you get burned out trying to do it all on your own. Many people care about foster kids and want to do something, but aren’t ready or able to commit to being foster parents. Allowing them to help you gives them an opportunity to help foster kids too!
3. Utilize Respite Care
Parenting is hard, but foster parenting is even harder, especially treatment foster care. As a foster parent, you will deal with appointments, red tape, and behaviors that most parents will never encounter. Sometimes, foster parents just need a break and that’s OK. Respite care is designed to give you the opportunity for rest and self-care. If you are single, you can take respite to get some alone time or spend time with close friends or family members. If you are married, you and your spouse need to have times for just the two of you so you can keep your relationship healthy and strong. All parents need these things, but it can be especially challenging to find an appropriate caregiver for foster children. Respite care makes it easier to take care of yourself before you get burned out.