Six things to master before becoming a Foster Parent-Basics to Being a Foster Parent


The following 6 statements describe the basic knowledge base of successful foster parents. Of course, there is more to being a foster parent, but these 6 points are a great place to start.

Foster Care Skill #1 – Know your home and family.

Before jumping into foster care, most families spend two or three years just thinking about it. Here are a few points to consider before making the final decision on whether or not to do foster care.

Foster Care Skill #2 – Know how to communicate.

You will be communicating with many different people as a foster parent. This list may include:

  • birth family
  • teachers and other school officials
  • therapists
  • social workers and other agency staff
  • judges and other court personnel, like a GAL or a CASA worker
  • other foster parents
  • your family and friends, who may just not understand your role as a foster parent.
  • the child

Foster Care Skill #3 – Know that working with foster children and the foster care system can be challenging.

The children in foster care have often endured extreme abuse and neglect. A child’s way of communicating is often through behaviors. The foster care system is also often a new entity for many foster parents.

Foster Care Skill #4 – Know how to successfully manage behaviors of challenging children.

Due to the past abuse and neglect, corporal punishment is not allowed to be used on children in foster care. If the discipline method causes physical discomfort, it is not OK. For example: going without a meal, withholding bathroom breaks, push-ups, or standing in the corner on tip-toes.

Foster Care Skill #5 – Know how to manage a child’s losses as well as your own.

Many times a child’s grief and loss (grieving the loss of their home and family as well as the past abuse) can trigger responses in foster parents.

Foster Care Skill #6 – Know how to work with others.

As a foster parent, you will be working with many different professionals. This really goes along with communication, but there is more to being a good team member.

Words Matter: A Strengths-Based Approach for Family Foster Care

Words Matter: A Strengths-Based Approach for Family Foster Care


Staff and board members from the National Foster Parent Association and the Child Welfare League of America contributed to this article: Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW, member of the Board of Directors of the National Foster Parent Association, consultant/trainer with Child Welfare League of America, and professor at California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work; Irene Clements, executive director, National Foster Parent Association; Donna D. Petras, PhD, MSW director of training and models of practice, Child Welfare League of America; Jean Fiorito, consultant for the National Foster Parent Association; Karen A. Poteet, MPA, member of the Board of Directors of the National Foster Parent Association.

Mindfulness for Carers


Mindfulness For Carers

How to Manage the Demands of Caregiving while Finding a place for Yourself

• ISBN-10: 1849056544
• ISBN-13: 9781849056540
2015, ePUB, 96pp
ISBN: 978-1-78450-147-1

Caregivers are particularly vulnerable to feeling stressed, worried and worn down by the vast demands that often come with caregiving, be they physical, psychological or emotional. Mindfulness can be enormously beneficial to those providing care, whether professional or voluntary, as a means of developing greater inner stability, resilience and gaining more control over their thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness is an evidence-based approach that is proven to help protect against stress, anxiety, depression and burnout.

Dr. Cheryl Rezek provides an accessible introduction to mindfulness, and explains how simple mindfulness practices and psychological concepts can be used to manage the day-to-day demands of caring effectively, helping caregivers to gain a greater sense of control and maintain a more positive and balanced outlook. The book includes easy-to-use and enjoyable mindfulness exercises, short enough to fit into a busy day, as well as accompanying audio tracks to support and guide the reader through these exercises.

An essential read for all those involved in caring for others with acute or long-term health and mental health conditions, disabilities and other support needs, including relatives and other informal caregivers, adoptive and foster parents, as well as professional medical, health and social work staff

The Amazing You

The Amazing You By Leyla Hekmatdoost PerkinsAmazing You
Blurb Publishing, 2015, ISBN 978-1320454667, 24 pages, $14.99
Reviewed by- Denise Rice, LCSW, LAC (

Leyla Perkins debut book provides an opportunity for children to navigate and explore their feelings in a creative narrative format. After having worked in the education system for a number of years, the author has been working at a local hospital with children going through hardships and trauma and used pieces of the book to help children cope with feelings and encourage healthy self- expression. Children are often more comfortable community through words. Don’t be fooled by the book’s simple presentation as it offers the experience for the reader to go beneath the surface and explore their own feelings and individual gifts. “The Amazing You” is a tool that can assist and support children in a variety of situations including bullying, children in healthy families, children of divorce, victims of trauma, grief/loss, abuse, neglect and children who could benefit from improved self-esteem and empathy.
“The Amazing You” can be used individually or to enhance relationships between adults and children working collaboratively. Exploring the readers “Personal Power” and how it has been used in a negative way or to enhance coping, the reader is offered a unique insight into themselves. The book is written in a way that all children are provided with a safe place to explore their opinions and beliefs. “The Amazing You” is a beautiful introduction to Life book work with children who need a starting point to document their story and experiences. The pages in the book allow for the reader to write, draw or attach relevant pictures, school work or other documents that support their personal narrative. This book will assist therapists, biological parents, foster, kinship or adoptive parents, school counselors, teachers and case workers or any adult who values the healthy development of children and youth.
As a clinician it is difficult to engage children in “talk therapy” but this book provides the foundation from a strengths based perspective to engage them and honor their experiences. The book emphasizes the importance of a support system and surrounding the child with people who understand the importance of healing in the context of relationship.
The colorful pages, illustrations and varying fonts are appealing to the reader and the cover art is whimsy and adorable. This book has been added to my personal and professional library and I hope that others will find the “The Amazing You” useful, relevant and ideal for children from all backgrounds.

From the desk of the NFPA President: President’s Award goes to Cate Hawks

Cate Hawks

One of the privileges that I have as the NFPA President is the opportunity to award an NFPA member who has given their all to the cause of our organization in the previous year with the President’s Award.  This year I am honored to share with everyone of you the contributions of Cate Hawks who has worked above and beyond the past two years to bring an outstanding training convention to foster, kinship and adoptive parents.

In addition to her position as the Director of New Found Families of Virginia, and her commitment to kinship families through the National Kinship Alliance for Children, Cate worked countless hours on both the 2015 and 2016 NFPA conventions. Her unwavering dedication to excellence stems from her desire to make sure that the families she serves always get the best she has to give and she never disappoints.

In her years of working with and for families Cate Hawks has earned the respect of professionals and the gratitude of the families that she serves with endless energy and genuine caring.  Cate not only takes on whatever challenges that will further the causes she cares deeply about, she also raises up everyone around her, casting the light on those working with her and the people they serve rather than herself.

It was with immense appreciation that I presented Cate Hawks with the 2016 NFPA President’s award at this year’s NFPA convention in Las Vegas, NV.

Thank you Cate for all you have done for the NFPA and all you strive to do for families every day!

Pat Llewellyn, NFPA President


Is your foster care “Village” on the same page as you?

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Reprint Article for Fostering Families Today-Advocating for your Child
Issue for Oct/Nov 2015
Denise Rice, LCSW, LAC

Is your foster care “Village” on the same page as you?

Part of advocating for all children in foster care is to make sure that your extended family, friends and social support network, aka the “Village,” are all on the same page as you. On one hand it is important people know that you have decided to embark on this journey, but the “Village” must also have a deeper understanding of what this journey truly involves. Here is an example of a way to communicate to your “Village.”
Greetings to All,

As you are aware, we’re nearing the completion of our foster parent training and certification process! Thank you for the role you have played as we embark on this new and sometimes trying road. We are grateful and so appreciative for your support and (even if you have lots of questions and concerns).

We know that this decision to foster will impact not just us but all of you as well. Our goal is to lay a solid foundation that promotes awareness and success for all involved. If you read this and have any questions, please let us know – we know this is A LOT to take in!

Placements to Expect
We anticipate being fully licensed/certified and waiting for a placement very soon! We are approved for _______foster kids, ages ________, including siblings. We have been very thoughtful about what children we feel most equipped to handle. Please know that we have not taken this step lightly and have spent many hours trying to identify the needs of children that we feel we will be able to effectively meet. We don’t know how long it will be before we get a call, but we know you are just as excited. The children could be staying with us anywhere from a few days to several years.

When we get a placement we will share with you the children’s names, ages, birth dates, personalities, and other such details. However, the family history, reasons for placement, medical status, and other aspects of the foster children’s story are confidential and we will not be able to share these details with you. We appreciate your concerns for us and these children but the child’s history and story is not for us to share, its private and we all need to respect it. If you would like to become a certified/approved respite provider for us, then you will be allowed to know a bit more and you would help us be able to take some breaks in the future…Just a thought!

Human Services policy is that pictures of foster children may not be posted online in any format. We won’t be able to post or email pictures of the kids, and we’ll need your cooperation in not posting pictures that you may take of the kids.

If you do take pictures of the children, these would be extremely helpful to have as I will be creating or building a Life-book for all the children placed with us. Let us know if you would like to know more about Life-books and how you can contribute.

Behavior and Discipline
You may observe unusual, bizarre or sometimes alarming behaviors from the children as a result of their trauma (abuse and neglect). Accordingly, you may also see us utilizing a variety of parenting or discipline techniques. We ask you to remember that we’re working with a team of professionals to address the child’s trauma and behaviors. This is a process and takes time. We will have to parent differently that we did with our biological children. We have read books, taken webinars online and attended some amazing training’s on how trauma impacts brain development and understanding the functions of behavior from a trauma informed perspective. We would encourage all of you to do the same. We are happy to suggest some books, websites, online training or in person training’s coming up if you are interested.

You may not agree with what we are doing but please know that we are also working within the parameters of regulations and rules. If you have concerns, please bring them up in private with us, away from the child.

Holidays, Vacations and Celebrations
We enjoy the time together with you on holidays and vacations. However, some foster children may have difficulty with the stress of large groups, new people and environments, travel and a change in routine. We ask for your patience when we have to miss an event, arrive late, leave early, or one parent has to stay home. We are committed to meeting the needs of these children and that means we will not be able to attend everything we did before. This may be only temporary. We have already learned that FLEXIBILITY is a major key to success in the world of foster care.

What Will They Call You/Us?
Our foster children will have the option of calling us by our first names, “Mr. and Mrs.” or “mom and dad,” if the child chooses. We’ll invite them to address you with the same names that our biological children use (grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, etc.). If you would like to discuss this ahead of time, we welcome the discussion.

How Do We Address Them?
No child wants to be known as “the foster kid.” We will refer to any children in our care as “our kids”. We ask you to please be sensitive and do not refer to a child or introduce them as a “foster child,” particularly in that child’s presence.

Supporting Attachments
We understand that the primary goal on all foster care cases is return home or reunification. We have also learned through training and in talking to other foster parents, that the children have far better outcomes when they are placed with adults who know the benefits of attachment for the children. We also know that a child’s connection or attachment to just one adult (does not have to be a family member) increases the child’s capacity to develop resilience. As children attach to us they gradually learn how to trust safe adults, and it builds their own sense of self-worth.

The challenge for us as foster parents is to connect and love the child, fearing the pain of losing the relationship when they leave. We have learned that the more people who love these children the better, even if for a short period of time. We are planting seeds that convey the message that connecting to adults through relationship is “Ok” and can be safe. The children will take these seeds with them and hopefully repeat that attachment process with others throughout their life.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. We will all help children who have been traumatized in a RELATIONSHIP, begin to heal in a REALTIONSHIP!

*Adapted from Foster Care Q&A, How do you explain foster care to your friends and family?

Remind your Representative to #PassHR2434

Please join the effort of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group to protect the adoption tax credit and make it refundable.  You can learn more about the tax credit from the fact sheet or from the letter submitted in April 2015 to leaders working on tax reform.


Read the bill at

The adoption tax credit helps children who need families!

Be the reminder your Representative needs to #PassHR2434. Visit for resources to get you started. #DontForget #Jointhe100

 Thanks for your commitment to #PassHR2434

Better Together: Collaboration Success!

Thanks to the hundreds of foster, kinship and adoptive parents, as well as the many child welfare professionals that attended the National Foster Parent Assoc and National Kinship Alliance  2016  Convention in Las Vegas.

The workshops were educational and the plenary speakers were inspirational!  With the hot weather – about 110 F each day – it sure was nice and cool in the many restaurants and casinos.

One of my favorite my favorite parts was the closing of the plenary session titled Foster and Kinship Caregivers: Sticking Together.  Eileen Pasztor told us about how Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz is an allegory of a child in kinship placement.  I’ll ask Eileen to write a blog post about that story.  I loved it.

I was also inspired to hear the convention opening by Raphael Lopéz, Commissioner of Children’s Bureau, U.S. Administration for Children, Youth and Families.  He truly understands and appreciates the challenges of foster and kinship care.

Now, it’s time to save the date for next year!  Put this on your calendar.

NFPA 2017 Convention
June 21-24, 2017
Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel
Houston, TX

Resource Parents and Their Families Can Be Powerful Advocates

Irene Clements, Executive Director of the National Foster Parent Association, has seen many changes in how resource parents are viewed in her 27 years as a foster and adoptive parent and public policy advocate.  During this 16-minute podcast, Clements tells podcast host Heather Biggar, LCSW, of the Maine Children’s Trauma Response Initiative, that resource parents are now seen as key players in the team effort to help children achieve permanency.  She also points out that while resource parents are now “a voice at the table,” much remains to be done.  Meaningful change will include acknowledging that entire resource families, and not just parents, are impacted by case planning decisions.  Clements urges parents to not only advocate one-on-one for their child, but to join with associations.

Listen to this 16 minute podcast at:

See the NCTSN podcasts on iTunes at:

NCTSN_Black+White_jpgPodcasts are provided by National Child Traumatic Stress Network Learning Center who offer free online education.  We thank them!

Official blog of the National Foster Parent Association – catering to foster, kinship, and adoptive parents.