XIV. A. Philosophy

Effective 2/15/83

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XIV. A. Philosophy

Effective 2/15/83

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1.Foster family care is the least restrictive, most homelike alternative to a natural family placement for children, and as such it is the foundation of substitute care services.  Foster family care services are diverse, flexible, most cost effective and help to assure individual attention to each child in the foster family care system.  Foster families must be willing and able to:
a.Handle a wide range of emotional/behavioral problems.
b.Be accepting of parents who have neglected and/or abused children in care.
c.Incorporate a new child into their home on short notice and for an indeterminate period of time.
d."Love and let go."


2.The Department shall create a climate which is conducive to the screening in of good potential foster parents, and shall not create artificial barriers or negative impressions.


3.Foster parents area a valued and essential part of the team caring for children and their input is an essential ingredient for agency decision making.  To this end, foster parents should be provided quality pre-service and in-service training.



Foster family service is defined as "the child welfare service that provides substitute family care for a planned period for a child when his own family cannot care for him for a temporary or extended period, or when adoption is  either not yet possible, or not desirable."


Provision of foster family care has a long history in this country.  It is based on the belief that a family setting is the best atmosphere for a child’s growth and nurturance.  A substitute family is generally preferred over an institution for the care of the child.


With the weakening of the extended family, it is increasingly difficult to find informal arrangements of substitute care within and among families.  More and more children are being taken into care under state jurisdiction, and the problems for which children are being placed have become increasingly complex.  As a consequence, foster parents often have a double task:  dealing with the child’s problems over separation from his or her parents, and making up for serious deficits in the child’s care before placement.


Foster parent education is a necessity.  Foster parents today are expected to provide much more than food, clothing and shelter; they are providing a therapeutic milieu for severely disturbed children.  Professionals are beginning to realize more fully the difficulties foster parents face daily in the care of children and their work with birth families.


The expectation that foster families can cope with any and all problems because they are "good" people is totally unrealistic.  The special needs of foster children require good parenting, plus additional awareness and skills that most parents are not called upon to have.  These additional qualities are needed to cope with the child’s divided loyalties, mistrust of adults and lack of self-worth, and the community’s misunderstanding of foster care.


Experience in foster family care has taught us many things about the dynamics of children who have been separated from their parents, and the implications of  these dynamics for their care.  We have learned that, indeed,  "love is not enough."  Foster children have special needs over and above those that children in their own  families require, and foster parents are called upon to be "parents plus," that is, to exercise an extra measure of understanding, patience, and know-how.  Foster parents need training in order to carry out these tasks adequately.  "Pre-service Training" provides a beginning for new foster parents, describing what foster care is, what it means to be a foster parent, and some guidelines and specific suggestions.



The training of foster parents before they undertake the role is not new; it has always been a part of the foster care program, generally as orientation meetings or applicant meetings.  The agency’s Community Care Unit has assumed responsibility for providing fact-giving sessions for applicants in the process of evaluating and licensing a foster home.  What is new is the use of the term "pre-service training" and the emphasis on providing a strong educational component related not only to requirements of licensure, but to the complexities of foster care, agency administration, the demands of foster parenting, special needs of children coming for care, and expectations of and supports to foster parents.


Through training prior to the placement of children, the Department expects to be more effective in use of time and staff, reduce replacements of children, decrease turnover in the foster parent population, assure better qualified foster parents for their program, and promote a foster parent-social worker partnership.  Other specific objectives are conveying more effectively to foster parents their value to the agency and the community, and increasing the foster parents’ identification with the agency’s goals.  Foster parents expect to have a clear understanding of their role and the roles of the natural parent and the placement agency in respect to the child in care.


Built into the pre-service programs are two concepts:  the prospective foster parent’s ability to assess their own capabilities and interest in their role, and the recognition of foster parents as appropriate instructors for prospective applicants.