There seems to be a lot of expectations from foster parents. And the trouble is that these expectations can be unclear for both foster parents and agencies.
Here is a summary of what these expectations are from academic research (see Corey S. Shdaimah and Jonas Rosen 2020):
- Caring for children’s physical and mental health
- Coordinating services and medical care
- Supporting children’s connections to birth families and ethnic heritage
- Growth and development of the child
- Responding to family reunification decisions
- Bring children to court for hearings
Here is some more details of what we have heard from foster care professionals including State Government managers during our many discussions over the years.
Caring for children’s physical and mental health: Here the foster parent is really performing a role of a good foster parent. In case the child has an injury in a school sport field you need to be able to able to help them cope medically and personally.
Coordinating services and medical care: Everything is paid for by Medicaid, but as a parent you will need to take the child for services. See more details from Child Welfare website.
Supporting children’s connections to birth families and ethnic heritage: Remember why the child came into foster care. The removal from the biological family was because of neglect,abuse or trauma. If somehow, the biological family became functional again – all would be well for the child. Meanwhile, your role is to allow help the child to keep up with their biological family and kin. If your ethnic heritage is different from the child’s you need to develop an interest in the child’s heritage. On a lighter note, everyone thinks that their culture is better than the other’s. Culture scholars call this ethnocentrism. No culture is good or bad- it’s just different is the view of StartFosterCare. See a nice note from Ken Barger at the University of Indiana, explaining this.
Growth and Development of the Child: This is one of the most important goals where you make a difference to the child. Anyone who is a teacher or coach tries to do this for their students. Prospective foster parents need to do this for the child in their care.
Responding to family reunification decisions: It’s hard to give up a foster child that you have grown to love and care. In case, re-unification becomes possible, you say goodbye to the child with a heavy heart and become ready to take in another child. Remember that you’ll be always a part of the child’s life.