Seeking Support as a Foster Parent
One of the reasons former and current foster parents say they quit or have considered quitting foster care is that they don’t feel supported. Foster parenting is challenging, and it is important to know how to find the support you need. You can find support in many ways whether it’s formal, informal, or professional.
At Intercept Treatment Foster Care, we believe that foster parents are a valuable part of children’s treatment teams and we appreciate their input and hard work. Foster care agencies should have formal channels for support within the agency. Whether that’s your caseworker, a special support team, or other staff members, agency staff can use their knowledge and experience to help you through whatever challenges you may face. At Intercept, we have a dedicated team of professionals that work with our foster families and provide you with people you can contact 24/7 if you are in need of support.
Another great way to find support is through other foster parents, family, and friends. Some people have very supportive friends and family members they can reach out to in challenging times. Having this kind of community is very helpful, but not everyone already has these types of people in their lives. In that case, it is crucial to build a supportive community. Sometimes local nonprofits or churches have groups or ministries that help foster parents. You can also seek out other foster parents through foster parent support groups in your area or network at trainings or events for foster families. Being around other foster parents who can understand all the complexities of the system can be very refreshing. Foster parents are often more equipped to help and can empathize in a way that others cannot.
Sometimes, foster parents or foster families need professional support from counselors. Some foster children have experienced very horrific things, and caregivers can experience what is called secondary trauma or compassion fatigue. Kids can also exhibit some extreme behaviors because of the severe trauma they have experienced. Foster parents are exposed to a high amount of stress and some of the most heart-wrenching situations and the effects are real. It is OK to seek out counseling. It doesn’t mean you are a failure as a foster parent, it means you are taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your children and family. That is a good thing. It is better to seek help than to let things continue to get worse until you are so overwhelmed you feel like quitting. It is best for you, your family, and your kids if you make sure you have the support you need, whatever that looks like.