What I wish I’d learned in training.

What I wish I’d learned in training.

There are a lot of hoops to becoming a foster parents. 30 hours of class, multiple home visits, interviews, background checks and recommendations to name a few. At times, we wondered if we would be approved.

Which is good. It should be hard. I think becoming a foster parent should be an intentional enough decision that you put some skin in the game before they put a child in your home.

But I do have a few ideas about things I would add or subtract from the process. For instance, the state-mandated blueprint-like fire escape plan displayed right beside the exit. It’s fairly impractical to think that a child, or any human being, would look at it rather than opening the door to escape.

I realize in some instance somewhere the map might be extremely useful, but unfortunately, the state has so many rules and regulations that often it becomes more about checking boxes than focusing on vetting and preparing individual families to begin caring for children in the midst of trauma.

The process becomes about proving you and your home can do it, rather than about preparing you and your family to do it. Both are necessary to building the best homes for these precious kids.

A dozen foster moms have created a beautiful blog named Dropping Anchors. In one post, each names something they wish they’d known before beginning foster care. Something they wish a class or a caseworker or another friendly foster parent had shared.

I found myself nodding at nearly every entry. But to name my own, I would say don’t be scared of how this will change you. The deep sadness of devastating stories. The secondary traumas of caring for kids who spit in your face. The complicated joys of loving kids who come and go. In the midst of our first placement, I felt lost. My easy smile gone. My world changed. And I did lose myself in many ways, but eventually through it, I found a better self. With a slower smile and a bigger world.


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  1. Pam

    I got so side-tracked that I forgot to tell you how much I appreciate your comments here. In my own classes I am currently taking, there is almost an extreme in teaching. On one hand, they will talk about children who you can’t fall asleep around because you might “wake up dead” and then there is the “bubble” of how “wonderful” it is to actually share parenting with the bio family, going on picnics, to the zoo, having a great time. Our instructor, while quite qualified, seems very bored and tired of teaching this for probably greater than 10 years and each week comes to class asking us what it is this week we are supposed to be learning, because he hasn’t bothered to find out for himself. He gives us examples of his anonymous patients who are mostly teens, and seems to have no emotion or compassion for humans in general. I have learned so much more from the list of blogs I follow and my own experiences working with children, that these classes seem almost a joke to me. Ironically, in other counties in our state there are better classes (I’m told) but they are at minimum an hour away, some two hours away. I want so much to stand up in class and just tell the other prospective foster parents how bogus some of this stuff is they are teaching. But I don’t…and won’t. Thinking of writing my own curricula and submitting it to prospective foster parents.

    Thank you so much for your blog!!

    • Liz

      Pam, I’m sad to hear about your negative experience with training. While I wish I’d learned more, I loved our trainers and felt they did an excellent job. I’m glad you’re supplementing with reading on your own. I found trauma classes, other foster parents, and books to all be invaluable tools. I think no matter how much I take in though, I will always have a lot to learn!

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