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Should You Be a Foster Parent?

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — marzo 2, 2021 — 4 min de lectura
Being a foster parent isn’t for everyone—but for some, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. We sat down (virtually) with foster care training manager LeeAnn Evans to learn more about who would be the perfect candidate for fostering children and teens in North Carolina.

A good foster parent has heart.

“First of all, you’ve got to be all heart to open your home to someone else—especially someone who comes from a whole different life experience than your own,” LeeAnn said.

Countless foster children come from traumatic situations. This can make it difficult for them to show positive emotions to others. However, a good foster parent has lots of love in their heart for the children staying with them, even if it’s not always returned. And many foster parents have expressed to LeeAnn that the best part of fostering is being able to “share their love.”

Authenticity is key.

Foster parents don’t have to be perfect. LeeAnn wants potential foster parents to know that “it’s okay to be human. In fact, we look for human because you’ve shown that you’ve dealt with your life experiences and healed from them. And children need that. Children recognize real.”

Are you willing to learn?

Good foster parents are willing to train hard. Parenting trainings can help break old thought patterns and improve the way foster parents interact with others and themselves.

“As I’ve licensed foster parents, I’ve seen that they too have been through trauma or had some rough life experiences. These classes can help them better understand their own childhood trauma,” said LeeAnn.

After getting to know their own issues, foster parents can change the way they operate. “When a child sees the foster parent working on themselves,” LeeAnn said, “they are more likely to mimic the foster parent’s behavior.”

Foster parents accept what isnot what could be.

LeeAnn stressed that a foster parent should want to know about their foster child’s world: “You’ve got to be willing to put yourself in their shoes.”

Good foster parents don’t ever blame the child for their unique reaction to trauma. They accept their foster children as they are and work to create a better environment for them. Furthermore, the best foster parents are flexible and include the child’s background and culture in their home (instead of acting like their life before foster care didn’t exist).

Practical considerations.

Potential foster parents should be prepared to share a lot about their lifestyle, family, and finances. Agencies will want to know “everything about you,” LeeAnn said. To learn about the steps you must take to become a foster parent, visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) website.

Foster parenting isn’t easy…

There’s a nationwide shortage of foster parents. Many people don’t have enough resources or time to properly care for another child, especially in the cases of children with behavioral or mental health challenges.

It’s also important to note that children and teens in the child welfare system have often faced trauma and abuse. Foster parents must be ready to help their children cope with the emotional fallout.

…but neither is being a hero.

Despite these challenges, LeeAnn encourages families to consider fostering. Even if you begin the training, you can still choose to not move forward. There’s no risk or obligation.

Fostering has been worthwhile to most parents LeeAnn has trained. Foster parents get to watch as children, who might have otherwise been trapped in a cycle of abuse, flourish before their eyes. It’s almost as if they have the power of transformation. And LeeAnn would agree: “Anyone who chooses to foster—to me—is a hero.”

Resources for Foster Parents and Families

We’ve created several resource brochures for kids and families involved in foster care. In these you’ll find information about local supports, free wellness resources, and how to contact our Department of Social Services liaisons.

Access Family Services, the agency LeeAnn works with, also has an online contact form for those interested in learning about therapeutic foster care.

LeeAnn Evans grew up in the North Carolina foster care system from age five to 18. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she joined Georgia’s Department of Family and Children Services as a foster care placement/adoption social worker and supervisor for more than eight years. In 2015, she returned to North Carolina to become a foster care licensing consultant at Access Family Services. Now a foster care training manager, LeeAnn lives her mission to share her personal knowledge and truth to youth in foster care and everyone who works for the foster care system. She believes that the more we communicate, the more light will be shed on the dark places of the system and together we can build a better journey for our children.
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