Dr. Sharon Ford, director of Foster Care and Adoption for Focus on the Family, stated, “Post-pandemic, every state — whether it’s on the East Coast or the West Coast or in between- every state is in need of more foster families to come forward because children continue to come into out-of-home care because they are at risk of abuse or neglect in the home that they are living in right now.”
Asked how she would respond to the common concern among potential foster parents that they will be ill-equipped to deal with children likely coming from background of neglect, abuse, or other forms of trauma, Dr. Ford shared:
One of the things I try to remind families is that no one is perfect and all of us need to grow and learn and be open to learning new things. One of the things that Child Welfare will do is they provide you with trainings and opportunities to learn and talk with experts in specific fields around mental health or behavioral health that will help equip you to meet the needs of the children who are entering your home. But don’t shy away because you feel ill-equipped.
Get the information that you need so that you can be there to make the difference for a child, or that child and their sibling group.
Dr. Ford stressed that the most important thing for potential foster care parents to be prepared for ahead of time is “that the children that are going to be entering the system have experienced trauma.”
She continued, “they need you as a prospective foster parent to be flexible, to be compassionate, to be understanding, and to nurture and pour love and support into them, and to provide the structure that they probably did not receive in the home that they were previously residing in. So they’re trusting and hoping that you will be there to meet their needs.”
Dr. Ford recommended a quick Google search of “foster care agency near me” as the first step to exploring foster parenting. She advised that one or two search results should pop up, including a local child welfare agency and potentially a private foster care agency as well.
“Call them, reach out and ask questions about becoming a foster or adoptive parent. Ask those critical questions about ‘when’s the next training?” she said. “Where’s the orientation class going to be held? Is it online or do I need to come in person?… Connect with them so that you can move forward in the process.”
In May of this year, Live Action News profiled a heartwarming story of a young woman who grew up in foster care and was recently adopted at age 19 by her caseworker. And in March, Live Action News spotlighted a new initiative by Tennessee’s governor to fill the unmet need for adoptive homes for children in the state’s foster care system. Other stories about children adopted through the foster care system are here, here, and here, and last summer, a movie was released showcasing the real life story of a young man whose life was saved through the love of his foster parents.
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