The Life of a Foster Parent

Apr 13, 2018

Becoming a foster parent is an extremely special gift that you can give a troubled child. You're helping children have better lives and providing them with the stability and love they're desperately seeking. Opening up your home as well as your heart will teach you so many things. Whether you have a child for a few weeks or a few months, you have the opportunity to instill lifelong lessons, be a positive role model, and set a great example for what a healthy family operates like.

If you're considering fostering, there are a few things you should know before you bring a child into your home. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Preparing Your Home for a Foster Child

Before the child even steps foot into your home, it's best to be prepared. Placements can happen very quickly once you're approved to be a foster parent. 

Gather clothing of various sizes and for both genders, collect toiletry items such as toothbrushes, shampoo, etc., to ensure you're fully stocked with all the basic items they may need when they arrive. Lock away all medications, chemicals (cleaning supplies), and anything fragile (glass vases, sentimental objects) so they're completely inaccessible. Some foster kids come from destructive backgrounds and may abuse or break these items out of anger or stress.

This is the fun part, prepare a room for them! It's important the child has their own space for comfort, safety, and to make them feel like it's their home too. Since you'll have an extra mouth to feed, you'll need to make sure you're fully stocked with food. Pick up a special treat for them! After they arrive you can ask what their favorites are.

Organizing, cleaning, having some games/movies on hand, and stocking up on common healthcare items like painkillers and a thermometer is wise too.

Bringing the Child into Your Home

Having a child stay in your home can be stressful for everyone. Adding a child to your home is a personal experience, and getting comfortable will take some time. Try to remember to say "our" home rather than "my" home to make them feel more at ease. As soon as the child walks in the door, it's very important to establish yourself as a parent. Lay down the ground rules and what you expect of them. (Especially with older children). Ease their fears and relate to them that you're here to help them, provide them with basic necessities and to let you know if they're hungry, thirsty or feeling sick. 

Introduce the child to other family members and then give them a tour of your entire house, showing important things they'll need to know. End the tour with their bedroom and let them get acclimated with some alone time. They're probably feeling overwhelmed, so some personal space is important. Depending on the child's age, situation, and personality some of these details may need to be adjusted. Remember, every child is different!

Bonding Activities to Do with the Child

Simple activities can help make foster kids feel welcomed and loved. After a little while, hang pictures of them in your home. Read books together. Brush their hair while singing to them. Color, cook, and eat together. Go to the park, shopping, or movies together. Set up a solid bedtime routine every night. Paint their nails. There are so many activities you can do together that will strengthen the bond between you both.

Overall, the most important activity you can do with them is simply spending quality time with them.

Reuniting the Child with their Family

The best way to set the entire situation up for success is by forming a good relationship with the foster child's family right from the start. When speaking to the child's family don't use negative or cruel words or bring up the past. Communicate and keep talking after the child has been reunited. Keep an open line of communication to discuss behaviors, how the child is transitioning, who's handling their homework, etc. Some of these conversations may seem uncomfortable but keep pushing to keep the lines of communication open for the child's best interest. You can also communicate through the child's social worker if that's easier.

Transitions are hard. Very hard. It can take weeks or even months to adjust depending on the child. Everyone's struggling with the change and going through some tough emotions. Remember these feelings are not going to last forever. You helped the child get through a tough chapter in their life. You provided love, support, and everything they needed when they had no one else to turn to. Pat yourself on the back and feel proud. Give yourself some time to recover, and then get ready to open your home to the next child who needs you.

Being a foster parent is extremely meaningful and rewarding. For more information or to apply to be a foster parent, contact Kids Crossing today.

Making Your Foster Child Feel Welcome

Mar 29, 2018

When a child is placed in foster care, it is a difficult situation to deal with, no matter the reason behind it. Sometimes the biological parents are willing but simply not able to care for their children and both parent and child are upset that they are being separated. Sometimes the reason for a child being placed in foster care is due to the death of their parent or parents, which increases the feelings of sadness, loss, uncertainty, and fear of the future. Often there is no available biological family member who can step in and take over the care of a child, and this can leave the child feeling rootless, unwanted, or unloved, even if that is not the case. Being understanding about the conflicting and confusing emotions a foster child is dealing with and extending kindness, patience, and being accommodating can help make a very difficult situation somewhat easier. Part of helping a child deal with the difficulties of being placed in foster care involves making that child feel welcome when they arrive at your home.

What can you do to help make a foster child feel welcome? Foster kids need kindness, love, and support just like every other kid. Because of being separated from their biological families, they often need a little extra patience and understanding, especially during the initial transition period. A foster child may be shy, withdrawn, and initially uncommunicative. Do not take this as a sign of rejection; your foster child needs to get to know you and understand that you want them in your home. They need to feel included without being pressured to act a certain way in order to be accepted by you. The more you are prepared to receive a foster child into your home, the more welcome you can make him or her feel. However, even if it’s an emergency placement there are a few simple things you can do to make the transition easier.

The Arrival. When your foster child arrives at your home, be one of the first welcoming faces. If the child is young, kneel down to eye level when you introduce yourself. Offer a few options for your child to call you, and don’t expect to be called “mom” or “dad” initially, although you can offer that as an option. Don’t force physical contact such as hand holding, but make it available if the child is younger, as this could be reassuring and help to start forming a bond between the two of you. If the child does not welcome your touch, respect his or her space. There may be a history of physical or sexual abuse, which can make a child hesitant or anxious about being touched. It’s wise to err on the side of caution and do your best to make the child feel welcome and comfortable without expectations.

The Welcome Basket. If you have a welcome basket ready for your foster child, it can offer reassurance that you were expecting and anticipating his or her arrival, and that they are worth getting a gift. Fill it with age appropriate toys, books, clothing, and a treat. Having a welcome basket prepared will let your child know you care. Include a small family book with photos of family members, pets, and a list of general house rules. Talk about your family’s favorite hobbies, activities, and traditions. Be sure to leave room for your foster child to add their own family history, favorite foods, activities, and hobbies. Leave a blank page for a wish list of things they would like to do or places they would like to visit.

The Home Tour: Show your foster child around the house. Explain that she’s now part of your family and can feel free to use things around the house. This can help give her a sense of belonging, which may be a first for her. If you have other children, have them join you to help start bonding with your foster child. End the tour with her room. If you have enough advance notice of your foster child’s arrival, you can ask the caseworker what your foster child likes and have it waiting for her, such as a favorite book or movie. Having a nightlight can help make the room feel safer, especially if the child is young. Allow your child the option to rearrange things in the room if it will help things more comfortable for her.

The Ice Breaker: Once your child has had time to get settled, gauge her mood and see if she’s open to talking. If so, start by asking questions that show that you’re truly interested without being intrusive, like asking if there’s anything you can do to make her more comfortable. Make yourself available if there are any questions. All of this will help build a bond, but don’t feel rejected if she doesn’t want to talk. It’s likely been a very difficult, and perhaps even scary day with a lot to process. Keep in mind that your child’s previous experiences with adults may have led to trust issues. Remember you are still a stranger, in whose house where your foster child is now expected to live. There may be genuine feelings of fear, and it’s important not to try and force your child to adapt or open up to you immediately. Patience is key to learning to live with one another.

Foster parenting is a serious commitment to provide love and support for a child and family in need, at a critical and often very emotional time for both the child and the family. The impact of being in the foster system is life changing for all involved, and becoming a foster parent is a big commitment of time, resources, support, emotions, and care. Being kind to the biological parent or parents, if they are present, can help everyone understand that you are there to help make the situation better. Remember that foster care is about helping to rebuild families and bring them back together, not split them up. In the end, love and patience will win the day.

If you think you want to become a foster parent in the Colorado foster care system, we encourage you to first educate yourself on the requirements. Kid’s Crossing is a private, non-profit, 501c3 Child Placement Agency licensed by the State of Colorado providing resources and training for foster parents. Our agency was founded by foster parents, for foster parents, and we understand the heart, commitment, and dedication required to foster a child. For more information on Colorado foster care and/or becoming a foster parent in Colorado Springs, call Kid’s Crossing at (719) 632-4569.

Tips on Fostering a Child

Mar 09, 2018

Tips on Fostering a Child

If you're new to fostering, you might be feeling a lot of things: nervous, excited, maybe even scared. It's normal to be emotional and even a little uneasy at first, but don't worry. You'll get the hang of it soon enough! The best thing you can do for a foster child is provide a loving, open home. That starts with having some ideas of what to expect. 

Meeting your foster child

The first meeting between you and your foster child could go a few different ways, depending on the child's background. The child will most likely be anxious and scared, unsure of how to act around you or in their new surroundings. She might be talkative and have questions, or she might be shy and say only a few words.

Here are some things you can do to calm the child and put her at ease:

How to prepare your other children for a foster child

If you have other kids at home, you'll need to spend time preparing them for how to engage with your new foster child. Here are some things to do ahead of time: 

Your foster child is coming to your home because of some sort of loss that happened in his life. This can result in his acting out in ways that are unexpected to you as he deals with feelings of anger, guilt, and grief. Taking training classes can help you prepare for how to handle these situations as they arise.

Above all else, never give up on your foster child. Spend some time every day listening to him, playing with him, reading stories, or just talking. It will take time for you to form a bond with your foster child, but it will be worth it.

The Foster System

Dec 01, 2017

Did you know that the foster care system has been around for thousands of years in one form or another? From ancient times, there have been parentless children in need of care. Early Christian church records show children were boarded with "worthy widows" who were paid by collections from the congregation. In 1636, less than thirty years after the founding of the Jamestown Colony, at the age of seven, Benjamin Harris Eaton became this nation's first foster child. Interestingly enough, Eaton has Colorado ties. He was an American politician, entrepreneur, and agriculturalist in the late 19th and early 20th Century, was the fourth Governor of Colorado from 1885 to 1887 (nicknamed “the farmer governor”), was a founding officer of the Greeley Colony and passed away in Greeley, Colorado on October 29, 1904, at the age of 70. The town of Eaton, Colorado is named for him.

There are many reasons and circumstances that make it difficult or impossible for biological families to care for their children, sometimes this includes the death of the parent or parents, with no suitable biological family available to step in and take over. In spite of this, there are many famous people who have been in the foster care system at one time or another, including those who have gone on to become pro athletes, authors, musicians, motivational speakers, dancers, designers, entrepreneurs, US senators, singers, and actors, and household names like the late James Dean, John Lennon, Steve Jobs, and Marilyn Monroe.

Foster kids are like any other kids, they face the same challenges other kids face growing up, but they hold dreams like other kids, too. And they need love and support to reach their goals and make those dreams come true. Becoming a foster parent should be seriously considered before a commitment is made. The impact of being in the foster system is life changing for all involved, and becoming a foster parent is a commitment of time, resources, support, emotions, and care. Foster parenting is a commitment to provide love and support for a child and family in need, at a critical and often very emotional time for both the child and the family. If you think you may wish to become a foster parent in the Colorado foster care system, we encourage you to first educate yourself on the requirements.

Kid’s Crossing is a private, non-profit, 501c3 Child Placement Agency licensed by the State of Colorado providing resources and training for foster parents. Our agency was founded by foster parents, for foster parents, and we understand the heart, commitment, and dedication required to foster a child. For more information on Colorado foster care and/or becoming a foster parent in Colorado Springs, call Kid’s Crossing at (719) 632-4569.

Colorado Foster Care

Oct 09, 2017

Colorado Foster Care

 

Children in Colorado foster care feel adrift on a sea of uncertainty, and desperately need the love, care, and stability of a good home. If you are a financially stable U.S. citizen or resident 21 years of age or older, physically and emotionally healthy and living in Colorado, these kids need you. You may have questions about the cost to foster or adopt a child; this often depends on the type of child placement agency used. Colorado is an agency state, which means you must use either a private or a county child placement agency.

If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent for a child in Colorado, you may already know that there are thousands of kids in the Colorado foster care system. These children need people like you in their lives, with the commitment to open your heart and home to care for a child in need. Many of these children were removed from the place they called home since birth, to somewhere that may be far from friends and biological families. This causes massive turmoil in their lives, forcing them to change schools, lose touch with lifelong friends, makes it difficult if not impossible to see their biological parents and siblings, and usually means that they must leave all the familiar, comforting things behind them, perhaps forever.

If you believe you are ready to become a foster parent for a child in Colorado, we would like to encourage you to educate yourself on the requirements for becoming responsible for a child or children currently in the Colorado foster care system. Although the need for foster parents is great, this is not a commitment to be undertaken lightly, as you are likely to forge lifelong relationships as a result of your involvement with a child you take into your home.

Kid’s Crossing is a private, non-profit, 501c3 Child Placement Agency licensed by the State of Colorado providing resources and training for foster parents. Our agency was founded by foster parents, for foster parents, and we understand the heart, commitment, and dedication required to foster a child. For more information on Colorado foster care and how to become a foster parent in Colorado Springs, call Kid’s Crossing at (719) 632-4569.