Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) provides a lot of different services and opportunities, whether it’s the NJFC Scholars Program helping kids get into college or our helpful Information Line which can direct you to the right place when you’re feeling lost.
However, these services aren’t the only options we offer.
We’ve noticed a few programs that haven’t quite received as much attention from foster parents as we’d like and we’re here to make sure you realize exactly what you’re missing.
Without further ado, here are the Top 5 FAFS Services you’re not taking advantage of:
5) We Heart Birthdays
Your foster child has a birthday coming up, and you want to make it the most amazing birthday ever. What do you do? Look no further. The FAFS “We Heart Birthdays” program is a newly-created program aimed at providing birthday joy to foster children who may never have had a birthday celebration. We believe that every child deserves to feel the glee of blowing out the candles and opening up that first present.
Be sure to check out our page to see how you can take advantage of this great program!
Of course, if a child is going to receive, someone’s got to give. This program is funded through generous donations from people just like you – meaning you can participate either by requesting a gift for your foster child or by donating yourself. To make the act of giving easier, we’ve developed an online Amazon Wishlist – check it out by clicking this link and see what you can give a child today! Alternatively, you can always submit a monetary donation through our online form, found here.
4) Webinar Trainings
What’s one thing that all licensed foster parents in New Jersey have to do? Training! As a license holder, you’re required to complete 21 hours of training every three years, so you’ve likely already trained with FAFS in the past. Maybe you ordered Home Correspondence Courses through the mail or signed up for 24/7 online training. Those modalities are wonderful ways of keeping up with your training hours but, for some people, there’s just no substitute for a living, breathing teacher. Normally, between raising your kids and going to work, you’d never find time to sit down with an instructor and really engage with the training material.
That’s why webinars clock in at number 4 on the list. Webinars are online courses that take place with a group of other resource parents and a live FAFS Trainer to walk you through the material. As long as you’ve got a computer or tablet and a phone, you can sign up for one of these webinars. By combining the ease of an online training with the thoroughness and one-on-one touch a trainer provides, webinars are easily one of the best FAFS services you’re not using.
To learn more about webinars, keep an eye out for our seasonal schedule flyers in your mail or register for them online through the link on the left hand side of the Train Online homepage.
3) Fostering Wishes for Children
When trying to make life as normal as possible for his family, a foster parent is going to do everything they can to make his kids feel great. A bit of help can go a long way towards covering school trip costs, sports team fees and other extras that help build a positive environment for growth and development.
FAFS thinks resource parents could use a little help to provide those little extras for their kids – so we offer $75 grants to resource parents who successfully apply to the Fostering Wishes for Children program.
Fostering Wishes for Children can help you get that new baseball bat or set of ballet slippers as long as your foster child is under the age of 21.
2) Dreamers and Believers
Foster parents are constantly looking for ways to enrich the lives of their foster kids. Whether they start young with tee ball or are a teenager looking to get into web design, parents know that making dreams come true for their kids can be tough.
That’s where the FAFS Dreamers and Believers program comes into play. The Dreamers and Believers program was started to help children reach for their dreams and helps to provide enrichment experiences like music camp, art lessons, ballet and more. If your child is dreaming of far off galaxies, FAFS can help her take her first steps to space camp. The best part? This program is open not only to foster families but to kinship and adoptive families as well. To apply for a Dreamers and Believers grant, visit our application to see eligibility requirements.
A lot of foster parents are out there struggling to make these dreams come true on their own, which is why Dreamers and Believers is yet another FAFS service that you should be taking advantage of.
1) Heart-To-Heart Mentoring
At its core, fostering is about service: Service to your community, service to another parent in need and, most of all, service to your foster child. We’ve just listed four programs that can help you on the road to foster care success, but the truth is, they’re just programs our office offers. They can’t listen to you, they can’t give you sage advice in times of need and although you might learn a thing or two about dealing with the foster care system, no single program or offering can help you nearly as much as the guidance of another person who’s been there before.
This is where the Heart-To-Heart Mentoring program comes into play. FAFS will team you up with an experienced resource parent, a Mentor, who understands the ins and outs of foster care. These Mentors will help guide you in your efforts to provide the best care for foster children and can serve as a resource for you when you just don’t know where else to go. The best part is that these Mentors are backed up by our very own FAFS Family Advocates, professionals familiar with foster care who work every day to help resource parents both over the phone and in person.
If you’re a resource parent who feels you have a lot of experience and advice you’d like to share, you can join this program as a Mentor by checking out the requirements and filling out the application here.
Or, if you’re a new or existing resource parent who feels like you could use the support of another person who knows what you’re going through, sign up to be a Mentee with our Mentee application here.
We’ve got more Mentors than Mentees and the experience they bring to the table is absolutely invaluable, which is why this is the number 1 FAFS service you SHOULD be using but aren’t! Sign up today and begin receiving the support you deserve as a foster parent who’s doing your best.
Frank Alvarez is the Digital Media Coordinator at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.