Although we’ve discussed it briefly in our blog “Top 5 FAFS Services You Aren’t Taking Advantage Of (But Totally Should!)”, the Heart to Heart Mentoring Program from FAFS is so valuable that we decided you should take a closer look. At first, it might seem intimidating to be matched up with another foster parent but as you’ll see, this can really help you through your roughest foster care patches.
First, meet Gloria.
Discovering A Problem
Gloria called FAFS a few months into her first placement looking for help with a specific situation she’d encountered, and we introduced her to Heart to Heart Mentoring.
“I think that when we do it (foster), we do it with great intentions and we don’t realize what things are going to really happen until you’re in that situation,” Gloria told us. “So, when I was struggling, I felt like I needed to find someone else that had gone through it, someone else that might know more than what I knew and would be able to help me through the process.”
We set her up with Laureen. Laureen had been licensed since 2010 and is currently the proud adoptive mother of the child she fostered. The two parents exchanged numbers and just like that, Gloria had a support system that was just a phone call away. Although apprehensive at first, Gloria doesn’t regret reaching out for help: “You don’t know what you’re walking into, but I’m very glad I did it. I recommend it one hundred percent.”
After just six months of foster parenting, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) informed Gloria that her foster children’s mother might have her parental rights terminated earlier than expected.
They wanted to know if Gloria was willing to adopt.
“I felt it was really early,” Gloria explains. With this new information from DCP&P, she called Laureen for advice.
“It was really about saving the placement,” Laureen said.
“She was there listening,” Gloria recalled. “…it was just like, ‘Well, usually it doesn’t happen this early,’ and, you know, ‘Just wait and be patient,’ and it really helped a lot.”
Becoming a Part of the Solution
FAFS’ Heart to Heart Mentoring program can’t work by itself, of course – so how, exactly, do you get involved?
The first step is signing up. By visiting our website, you can choose to sign up as either a Mentee (a person looking for help) or to sign up as a Mentor (a person looking to provide help). Both parents have to go through an approval process. Once approved, FAFS will add them to our Mentor/Mentee database.
From there, FAFS looks to find commonalities in each parent’s situations. As an adoptive mother of a foster child, it seemed natural to match Laureen with Gloria, who was being asked to adopt. In a similar fashion, if you sign up as a mentee who is fostering a medically fragile infant, we’ll look to match you with a mentor who can most relate to and understand your situation. After that, you’ll be in touch with your mentor and have a ready companion to help advise you through difficult decisions as well as provide knowledge you might not have had previously. Sometimes, simply having someone by your side can mean the difference between foster parent burnout and a successful, prosperous foster care placement. As Gloria said, “It was really this mentoring, the Heart to Heart Mentor program, that really helped keep my home a foster home.”
Help make sure foster homes stay foster homes: sign up for the Heart to Heart Mentoring program and get (or give!) help today.
Frank Alvarez is the Digital Media Coordinator at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.