The topic of child welfare looms large in my novel Our Orbit. It tells the story of an Appalachian girl who crosses the tracks to become foster daughter to an educated family. Love and conflict ensue as all the burning social issues of our time raise their sometimes ugly heads. In gratitude to those who helped me learn about the many demands and great rewards of foster care, I am sharing information on this topic throughout the month of May 2015, National Foster Care Month.
From the website of the Wisconsin Coalition for Children, Youth & Families—
Wanted: Special families for special kids—take the challenge through foster care.
The ad caught your eye. You have been thinking about doing foster care for a long time. You think you want to commit yourself and your family to fostering a child. But how do you involve your kids in the decision making and prepare them for the addition of a foster youth? Whether your kids live at home with you, or are out on their own, listen to their thoughts and ideas about fostering.
Talk about Foster Care
Depending upon the age and maturity of your children, the first step to making a decision about family foster care is to have a discussion with your kids. Kids may have many questions about the youth that are in foster care.
Eventually, your family will want to discuss what ages, gender, and types of kids fit best for your family. Have a family meeting and talk about the special needs of kids in foster care. What abilities and skills do family members have to help meet these needs? Consider discussing the following topics:
Purpose of foster care. Foster care provides kids the care they need (such as getting medical treatment, counseling, living in a safe home, exposing kids to healthy family life, supporting kids to attend school) for positive changes to happen for the child and their family. Kids in foster care can often be reunited with their family or sometimes adopted.
Types of kids in foster care. Kids come from many different circumstances. Sometimes they have experienced abuse, neglect, truancy from school, special medical and emotional needs, or may have behavior issues. Sometimes kids in foster care have no serious problems.
Situations. Many times, parents of kids in foster care are unable to take care of their children due to their own problems (drugs, alcohol, mental illness, incarceration, limited understanding or interest in being a parent, deceased parents or no family).
Behavior problems. Like all of us, some kids have no issues while some may be aggressive, quiet, hyperactive, withdrawn, immature, or fearful. They may act out sexually, hoard food, have sleeping problems or have drug and alcohol abuse issues.
Thank you for learning about issues involved in foster care! For additional information—
Visit the official site of National Foster Care Month 2015. That’s right now!
Visit the National Foster Parent Association.
And feel free to share your insights in the “Comments” section below.