7 Benefits of Being A Foster Parent
By: Lori Jalkiewicz, Program Director, Acenda, Kinship, and Adoption Services
Foster parenting is hard work, without a doubt. Taking children into your home, adjusting your routines, accommodating new needs, and adapting to the new people that come in and out of your life as a result can be exhausting. However, the benefits of choosing to open your home to a child in need are substantial!
Here are 7 benefits of fostering:
1. Foster care really is a mission field. Have you thought about going on a mission trip, but your job, family, or situation does not allow for it? If so, consider becoming a foster parent. There are many opportunities for you to reach those in need right in your own backyard. Children and youth in the foster care system often face tremendous obstacles. Foster parenting is a powerful way to lift the spirits of children and youth, and show them that there is hope for the future.
2. It takes a lot of active players to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect. One of the key factors in amending the problems and circumstances that bring children into care is the involvement of multiple people who play integral and supportive roles with at-risk families, children, and youth. The role of a foster parent is one of the most vital ones in the system. Foster parents can love and teach children while also supporting the biological family members who are working to provide a safer home for their children to return to.
3. The lessons learned through foster parenting translate to different situations throughout life. The majority of the people who have experienced foster parenting walk away with a greater sense of what is really going on in their communities. Their ability to humanize others, understand that everyone has a story, and appreciate their own upbringings are just a few of the great lessons learned while foster parenting. As a foster parent, you learn to let go of the need to control things in your life (that is probably one of the biggest challenges as well). You also begin to see a greater picture unfold of how your own life experience can shape the world around you.
4. Foster parenting changes generations. The difference you can make as a foster parent, and adoptive parent, does not just change the lives of the children you are fostering. It has the ability to change generations. Children and youth can learn what it takes for families to be stable and safe. Through the lessons taught by foster parents, the hope is that children will grow up to provide security and safety for their own children, and their children's children will do the same.
5. Far too many children grow up in a setting that does not resemble a family. Residential facilities and group homes provide for safety, basic needs, and structure, but they are not a family. Some children require a high level of structure and care due to emotional and behavioral challenges, but it would be considered an incredible success if families were willing to undergo specialized training to meet the challenges of these children and youth, while also providing them with the feeling of belonging in a family.
6. There are not enough homes for older children and sibling groups. This is one of the most heartbreaking struggles in finding homes for children and youth in care. It is very difficult to find homes for children over the age of six, and for groups of three or more siblings. A lot of families entering into foster care prefer younger ages, and while this is understandable, the truth is that all ages of children and youth are in need of families. In addition, if homes are not available for larger sibling groups, the group is split up into multiple homes. Children and youth in care have already dealt with their lives being turned upside down, so sleeping in foster care shelters due to the lack of homes or being separated from siblings is extremely distressing. It cannot be stressed enough that there is a huge need for families to take older kids and sibling groups.
7. The children need you. Let’s face it. There are far too many children in the foster care system in the United States. We live in a great nation with tremendous opportunity; yet, around each corner in our communities are children and youth who may never live a life without fear, confusion, and chaos. Of course, the greatest challenge and passion of professionals working in child welfare is to prevent child abuse and neglect. Despite the work done in this area, the statistics continues to show that abuse and neglect are prevalent in our society. Foster parenting is a wonderful way to be a part of a community that works tirelessly to provide children and youth with a greater future. Know that you would be making a positive impact in the life of a child in need and you wouldn’t be doing it alone.
To help alleviate some of the initial pressures and potential hardships during the transitional period, we have several programs at Acenda designed to make that process easier for everyone in your home:
Resource Family Support
Designed to assist foster parents in navigating the resources available to them. The worker maintains a minimum monthly contact and is available by phone throughout the month and is there to help answer questions, provide support and link to services.
Strengthening Foster Children and Families
A therapeutic program designed to help children in foster care and their families navigate the challenges that exist with out of home placement. Recognizing and managing the traumatic impact of placement with a Masters level clinician allows families to incorporate effective skills and minimize disruptions.
For more information, contact our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632).