Who Are Foster Parents?

A quick run down of the responsibilities of foster parents and all others involved in the foster system.

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Note: This information has been excerpted from materials specific to one state. Be sure to check with your Foster Care Specialist for details in your state, county, or province.

The term “provider parent” refers to you, parents who provide care to our clients in a variety of different programs. It includes foster parents, family living parents, community home staff, host home parents, respite care parents, and so on.

The term “client supervisor” refers to your client’s case worker and the caseworker assigned to supervise your home. He or she will make regular visits to your home at least every two weeks and will make unannounced visits at least every few months. Client supervisors are responsible for developing your client’s treatment plan and assisting you in carrying out the needed treatment. Your client supervisor is your link to the agency. All routine questions are to be directed to your client supervisor.

Clients may need placement outside of their homes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is because the parents cannot care for the child or adult or provide the proper care, control, and supervision. Perhaps the client has been neglected or abused or has broken the law. Whatever the reason, it is important that the provider parents be able to meet the needs of the child that could not be met at home.

Biological parents and/or guardians are informed of the names and addresses of the provider parents where their children are residing, unless the court or referral agency orders otherwise. Supervised visits with biological parents or guardians are held in the visiting facility, unless other arrangements are made.

Provider parents are responsible for the moral teaching of clients. The best way to do this is by example. We want all clients to be honest, respectful, law-abiding citizens. Provider parents must display such behavior so that clients naturally learn it in the home.

Many clients come into placement without proper moral teaching or a good set of values. It is important for provider parents to understand that such learning takes many years. It is unfair to expect clients to change their values overnight just because they moved into a different family. Such changes take a long time and require much patience on everyone’s part.

There will be an adjustment period during the first few weeks when a client is placed with you. You may be very excited about helping a client. The client will probably have many mixed feelings and may not feel the same way. The client may want to be in placement or be extremely frightened and want nothing to do with you. He or she may be confused, hurt, neglected, rebellious, or simply worried about living in a new place with total strangers. Be patient. Allow the client time to adjust to your home.

Accept the fact that the client may not want to be in placement or appreciate your efforts to help. You are not totally accountable for the outcome, but it is most important to do your best. The outcome depends upon the client’s willingness to grow and change, your efforts, the efforts of the staff, school personnel, and outside counselors, as well as the efforts of all the other individuals involved in the client’s life. We must all work together as a team do our best in order to obtain the best outcome.

Some agencies allow approved provider parents to do short-term respite care through other agencies; however, not all agencies allow approved provider parents to provide long-term placements through other agencies.

Provider parents have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of their clients. By doing so, they often enrich their own lives as well.

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