Finding Your Village: Creating a Foster Care Support System

Finding Your Village Creating a Foster Care Support System

The African Proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ is particularly relevant in the realm of foster care. The journey of welcoming a child into your home mirrors the experience of bringing your first child home from the hospital—filled with uncertainty and the question, ‘Now what?’ There’s no manual or guidebook to accompany you on this path. It becomes evident that you need support, assistance, and a village. But how do you go about finding your village and creating a support system?

Many foster parents acknowledge the need for wrap-around support but often feel guilty about asking for it. They signed up for this, after all. However, by actively seeking support, you can avoid the isolation that often leads to frustration and disruption in the foster care journey. Isolation can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a foster parent. It’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed when facing the daily struggles and uncertainties that come with foster care. But by building a support network, you can create a vibrant sense of community, where you can share your experiences, learn from others, and feel less alone in this journey.

5 Types of People To Have in Your Support System

Proactively building your ‘village’ before that first placement can be a game-changer. Even if you’re knee-deep in the journey, it’s never too late to form your village. But what exactly should you look for in a village? It’s a question worth exploring.

Let’s delve into the qualities and characteristics that make a village a supportive and nurturing environment for foster parents and their kids. By taking a proactive approach to building your community, you will be equipped with resources and the tools you need when needed. This proactive step can empower you, instilling confidence and capability in your role as a foster parent. 

1. People With a Shared Passion for Children

A shared passion for kids is a crucial aspect of your support system. Taking kids into your home is a significant undertaking and commitment. When a family that has taken in kids receives support from their village, it’s a true blessing! It’s important to remember that many families would love to welcome kids and do what you’re doing, but they may not be sure they’re up to the task. By not allowing them to step in and help, you’re potentially denying them their place in the foster care crisis. By opening your doors to support, you benefit yourself and allow others to make a difference in a child’s life. This mutual support can create a sense of fulfillment and shared purpose, making you feel that you are not alone in this journey.

2. People Who Know You Well

Another piece of your network is to include someone or a few people who know you well! We know the people who know us best can read us best. They know when we are good and when we are on the struggle bus. With these people in our lives, we can’t fake being okay! Having this person as part of our journey is essential, especially when we don’t have the energy or capacity to reach out for help. This person who knows you well in your support network can provide understanding, support, a much-needed meal, an afternoon of cleaning, or some help with a transportation need, making your journey as a foster parent easier.

In addition to shared passion and having someone who knows you well, there are other important ways to build your village. Here are a few more suggestions:

3. Experienced Foster Parents

Look for experienced foster parents. Connecting with experienced foster parents can provide valuable insights and advice. They can share their stories, offer suggestions and guidance, and mentor you and your family as you navigate the challenges and rewards of your journey. Their experience can be a beacon of light in your journey, helping you avoid common pitfalls and providing reassurance when things get tough. You can connect with experienced foster parents through local support groups held at agencies or churches, many online groups, or social media pages devoted to foster care. As you create a community with other foster families, the children you serve will see they are not alone.

4. Social Workers and Foster Agencies

Engage with social workers and the agency you foster with. Building a positive and collaborative relationship with social workers and foster care agencies can be beneficial. They can provide you with important information, resources, and support services. Open communication with these professionals ensures that you have access to the assistance you need. By maintaining a transparent and respectful relationship with them, you can ensure that your needs and those of the children in your care get met. Remember, they are on your team and desire to come alongside you.     

5. Teachers and School Staff

Cultivate relationships with teachers and school staff. Building solid relationships with the teachers and staff involved in the lives of children in your care can provide valuable support and resources. Together, you can work on educational and emotional needs as they arise. An excellent way to connect is to schedule a meeting with the child’s teachers and school counselors to discuss the child’s educational and emotional needs. Building this positive and open line of communication with the school staff can help foster parents stay informed about their child’s progress and any challenges they may face at school. Another practical way to attend parent-teacher conferences and school events is to demonstrate your involvement and commitment to the child’s education. By actively participating in school activities, foster parents can show their children they care about their academic success and well-being.

These connections require actively seeking out and nurturing. With them, though, you can expect to help create a robust support system that will help you navigate the challenges of foster care and provide a nurturing environment for the children in your care. Once you’ve identified this village, pull them all together. One way of doing this is hosting a cookout or gathering for everyone to meet and rally around the family. When everyone assembles, even visually, it adds strength and encouragement. We are so much better together!

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