Benchmark Family Services exists for the sole mission of helping youth necessitating out-of-home care achieve a hopeful outlook through therapeutic foster care. This endeavor gives us the honor of working with a wonderful network of therapeutic foster parents in Indiana and Kentucky who have answered the call to help by opening their homes to a population of disenfranchised children needing a nurturing environment.
Because we specialize in providing homes for those children who are challenging to place, we provide our foster parent’s specialized training and support. But what makes these therapeutic parents successful is their commitment to persist through the foster child’s adjustments and provide a stable, nurturing home.
Let’s look at some leading attributes that make therapeutic foster parents successful in these endeavors.
As a therapeutic foster parent, you are there to provide a child or teen with much more than a bed or place to live. You are there to welcome them into your family and help them feel a part of a stable environment.
The more you are welcoming to that foster child, the more the child may feel accepted and reassured.
Show Support of Biological Family
It is vital you never speak poorly of a foster child’s parent or caregiver and equally important to be accepting of their relationship. This includes supporting the visitation, communication and other case plan engagements that have been mapped out for the foster child. You must keep in mind that when possible, reunification is often the goal that is carefully planned for the child’s permanent status.
Have Empathy – Show Empathy
Foster children need empathetic adults in their life—adults who understand their feelings and the experiences they are going through although they may not share the same feelings. By showing empathy you are acknowledging to the child that you recognize the difficulty as well as reassuring them that you appreciate their needs and are there to help them.
Much like any other meaningful bond in our lives, communication is key in building a good relationship. This isn’t about just talking to your foster child, but also allowing them to talk and be heard. Communication also means paying attention to what the foster child does not say as they are not likely to discuss painful matters which leaves them to express their views through activities. As a foster parent it is essential to listen and pay attention to the child and respond to them in ways that are respectful of their guarded disposition and purposeful in developing trust.
Even in a stable environment, parenting will always have ups and downs. This holds true for foster parenting as well. But how well the foster parent manages challenges and maintains a stable, nurturing home demonstrates the resiliency of a successful therapeutic foster parent. Resilience also means knowing when to seek help in challenging times so that the home environment stays supportive. Demonstrating resiliency also models problem-solving for the foster child and conveys the importance of building inner strength to tackle challenges and achieve favorable outcomes.
As the primary caregiver, a therapeutic foster parent should be aware of the expectation and importance of documentation. Foster parents are in a unique role as they spend the majority of time with the child and they are in the best position to witness daily behaviors, attitudes, how a child processes situations, and what a child shares verbally with them. Accurate documentation of this information contributes to effective interventions, treatment planning, and ultimately assisting the child in experiencing success.
The successful therapeutic foster parent is consistent. For every foster child that comes into their home comes different personalities, a new set of needs, and different paths of experiences. No matter the changes in the child, consistency is the key to maintaining a stable environment that in turn allows that child to thrive. The foster child who is given predictable and unchanging boundaries, support, discipline, and praise is the child likely to succeed with their foster parent. Being a successful therapeutic foster parent is being dedicated to the cause and determined to see it through.
To be a therapeutic foster parent in Kentucky and Indiana, you will be trained and certified after passing the state and agency approval process. If you are ready to welcome a child into your home, or you would like to learn more about the foster parent qualifications in Kentucky, contact us at Benchmark Family Services so that we can get you on your way.