Meeting with foster families
A foster family is a family that provides a home for children that need temporary placement, as designated by the support functions of child welfare services. Most foster families also include biological children. In long-term placements, foster parents take care of all aspects of the foster child’s life and may be the only family the child has. In many cases, the child also maintains contact with his/her own biological parents. Thus, it is vital to support the partnership between the foster parents and biological parents to ensure the best possible upbringing for the child in question.
Children that have been placed in foster care often feel let down by adults and, as a result, no longer trust in them. Therefore, it may take time and quite a lot of effort for foster families to gain the child’s trust. Understanding a child’s behaviour is not always easy and can require the help of experts. One aspect of fostering that may feel inconsistent is that while the foster parents should be nurturing and establishing a family relationship with the child and working hard to understand the issues behind the child’s behaviour, they must also be prepared to part with the child.
What should a professional take into consideration when meeting with foster families?
Foster parenthood is most often a chosen form of family, as the children are accepted willingly and voluntarily into the family.
The daily lives of foster families are characterised by constant change and their lives are largely affected by the social welfare system and the child’s biological parents.
Pay attention to the formation of attachment relationships between the parents and child, but also between the child and his/her new siblings. Foster parenthood that involves, in particular, young infants and toddlers are often very emotional arrangements.
A great deal of information and discussion of issues are necessary when it comes to establishing successful sibling relationships and parental equality.
Foster children are entitled to receive all the basic and special services required within the area in which the foster family resides.
Encourage the foster parents to engage in open and equal co-operation with the child’s biological family and social services.
Include the child in discussions.
The children may have two families in their lives. Enable the children to live a full life in both families.
A child’s definition of family is different from an adult’s. Allow the child to independently define his/her family.
Foster children are being accepted into a different family and they will need time to adjust.
Talk openly about foster parenthood and ask questions if you are unfamiliar with any of the issues.