It’s not easy to be a foster parent, but Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) is here to help. If you find yourself wondering how you can prepare for another year in fostering, this list of our top 5 Foster Care New Year’s Resolutions will point you in the right direction. It’s not just about taking on more responsibility or accepting new children into your home – to make 2018 an even better year for children in New Jersey foster care, we want to make sure you know that you have the full support of our organization. Read the resolutions below to see how we can help you help yourself so the children in your care can flourish.
1) Be Placement-Ready
Transitioning from home to home can be traumatic for foster children, so the easier you can make it for them, the better. Be sure to ask the right questions when you get the call for a placement – our Keeping You Informed bulletin can get you up-to-speed on the various factors you’ll want to consider before determining whether a child is the right fit for you. Once you’re aware of a child’s needs, you can begin preparing your home and family to be as welcoming as possible.
And don’t be afraid to say no if you think your family isn’t prepared for a child. As we mention in our Foster Care Placement FAQ, “you should never take in a foster child you are certain won’t be a good fit for your family just because you want a placement. You always have the right to say no in the event you think that the placement you’re being offered is a bad match.”
2) Stay Informed
Foster care is constantly changing and growing, and as the state adapts every year to provide the best care possible, foster parents can miss out on critical information and support services if they don’t stay informed. To help you with this resolution, FAFS has a number of services that can help you make sure you’ve got all the knowledge you need to be more successful in 2018:
- The FAFS Information Line associate can be reached at 800.222.0047 and is available Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Our Information Line is the starting point for any foster parent in need of assistance. When you call, our associate will direct you to the appropriate person so you can begin resolving any issues you have as quickly as possible.
- Keeping You Informed Bulletins cover a wide variety of topics and can serve as quick reminders for things like the Adoption Tax Credit, foster care vacation regulations and the rights and responsibilities of foster parents. Print these out and keep them handy so you can answer any questions that might come up.
3) Use Your Support Network
You might not realize it, but you have a foster care support network! FAFS has a number of services that can connect you with real people who can help you with a variety of foster care issues, whether it’s the FAFS Family Advocates who can help you work with the state, or our Connecting Families meetings where you can meet other foster parents to share stories, get tips or learn something new.
We also have the Heart To Heart Mentoring program for direct, one-on-one advice. When you sign up as a Mentee, FAFS will pair you with a foster parent who can relate to your concerns and experiences and help you with advice.
4) Take Some Trainings
FAFS offers a variety of courses that cover everything from medical issues like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to personal emotional struggles like the grief and depression that can often follow a foster child leaving your home. Although New Jersey requires that foster parents take at least 21 In-Service training hours of training every three years (or 7 In-Service training hours a year) to maintain their license, many foster parents find value in taking the courses for their own self-improvement. You can train through the mail or online in a variety of ways, so make sure you check out our training catalog and see how you can further your foster care education today!
If you’re preparing for a new child, it is a good idea to finish as many of those In-Service training hours as possible to save yourself the stress of taking trainings days before a home inspection.
5) Become a FAFS Volunteer
At FAFS, we know that foster parents work hard every year to make the foster care system better for the children it serves. But we also know that it’s not an easy job. If you’re between foster children or can find time in your schedule to help other foster parents, FAFS would love to have you as a volunteer. There are a number of ways you can help FAFS improve foster care in New Jersey:
- Connecting Families: Our Connecting Families volunteers help bring together foster parents throughout New Jersey. Whether it’s organizing holiday parties or getting parents together for a county-wide meeting, Connecting Families volunteers facilitate foster parent networking so that you can expand your support network and grow with other foster parents along the way.
- Share Your Story: At FAFS, we’re constantly looking for opportunities to share foster parent stories with the rest of the world. The hard work and care that you put into fostering serves as a shining example to people interested in supporting foster care. If you’d be willing to share your story with us, we’d love to have it – please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your foster care experiences! To see some examples of what we’ve already done, visit our YouTube channel here.
Feel free to share your own personal Foster Care New Year’s Resolutions in the comment section below, and from all of us here at FAFS, happy New Year!
Frank Alvarez is the Digital Media Coordinator at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.