Emotional Support for Foster Parents
Emotional Support for Foster Parents
AKA Foster Parent BFF
Foster Parents need a lot of support to be successful and continue performing the duties of foster parenting, for the long haul anyway. It is a stressful journey to voluntarily embark upon. Emotional Support for foster parents is essential.
There are multiple ways to get support. You could join an online support group like on Facebook, find a mentor, find a Foster parent BFF, and join other online groups that offer support and encouragement. You can get together with other foster parents in churches or in community groups where available.
If you remember your best friend from school, you'll remember wanting to share everything with them. You want to share happy moments and sad times. You'd want to vent about injustices in school or someone who did you wrong in gym class. Every time someone is mean to you, you share. And, when needed, you provide a listening ear.
A foster parent needs a friend that can share unique foster care experiences. This may not be your best friend from the earlier part of your life, but your 'foster care best friend' (Foster Care BFF) so-to-speak. This person is someone who is farther along in the journey than you are. This person may even be entering the foster care journey at the same time as you. She (or he) has had a few placements or has raised a few fosters in the past. This person knows his or her way around the system too or is navigating simultaneously with you.
You can call this person when the going is tough and you need to vent or ask for advice. You will need emotional support as a foster parent.
You also are a listening ear for them when needed as well.
A great place to find this person is on a Foster support group page for your local area. In my area, we have a Foster Support group for our entire state located on Facebook. We pose questions and answer them. There are some veterans there. I can message one that seems to know what they are doing. I find that there are some who desire to mentor someone else. They are the mothers of the mothers in the group. Perhaps see who is like-minded and/or in your area. Who has similar values? Is there anyone who has similar passions? I'm not for stalking the page of those on the group, but it is possible to find a person you resonate with and find someone with whom you have additional things in common. Emotional support for foster parents is so important because the children's emotional and mental health is at stake.
Another great place to look is local support groups. Here is a search tool to find a state parent group for fostering. https://www.nacac.org/
Another resource to look at is fostering agencies that may have their own groups. Often these groups don't interact with other agencies, so the 'perfect' mentor may not be with your same agency. I like searching broadly without broadcasting that you are looking for a mentor. Emotional support for foster parents is of utmost importance and they should be aware of it at the agency. Foster parent support is essential.
State agencies may have information on formal support groups. They may have a list of mentor foster parents as well. Support groups are often found at churches. A google search may be productive.
I was on a Facebook foster care support group and a lady put her age, foster children's age, a few other details, and asked if anyone wanted to mentor her. It was effective as she had a lot of volunteers, but would it last and become genuine and natural? Would the organic relationship really be able to function? Could you trust someone you 'met' in a group post like that? I don't think I could, but just me...
Lastly, I would encourage you to reach out to me. I want to be a source of inspiration, answers, and a listening ear. http://www.impressingminds.com is my personal blog that you are on now. I want you to search for all the posts that speak to you. Comment questions that you have and I will try to answer them. Email me. Share this post with someone who you may want to mentor you or become your "foster care BFF" because emotional support for foster parents is essential.
My ultimate goal will be to host foster support and mentoring groups that can sharpen one another and discuss issues - even delicate ones - and assist these kids grow up to be a productive citizen of the world.
Another reason to join state foster care groups is to motivate laws and lawmakers. If you are in a group, you can monitor elements in government, unite to call senators or delegates to influence them to make changes in favor of foster care. You can share information regarding policy and procedures... We have a strong foster care state group and have enacted a lot of change thanks to a few organizers who take it upon themselves to get involved for the benefit of the foster care community. Much legislation was changed in 2019 thanks to them being involved, asking us to write letters, make calls, stay alert, etc. We actually bonded as a group during the session as we awaited committee meetings and bills' passages and governor's signatures. Foster parent support goes beyond emotional but can be legislative in nature. Working together to make changes creates bonds with others.
Final Suggestions for support
In the end, the foster community and individual families need support. Online support is better than none, but...
I recommend both in-person and online support people.
I recommend phone calls and texts.
I say visits with your mentor on the front porch and at the coffee shop.
I suggest you take her kids for a few hours and she takes yours next weekend.
I recommend scheduled Facetime calls while you hide in your bathroom.
In what ways have you made a connection with another foster family? Were you friends before the journey and did you bond more because of the foster journey? Let me know in the comments how your situation evolved. How did you meet your foster care BFF?