People are drawn to foster parenting for countless reasons. For some, foster parenting represents the chance to make a real difference in the lives of children. For others, foster parenting provides the opportunity to come alongside young people with care and love during a difficult time. No matter what the motivation, the impact of fostering a child in need will make a difference that lasts forever.
But even with this outcome in mind, deciding to become a foster parent can be difficult. It’s a highly personal choice that comes with a lot of responsibilities and questions. However, by learning about the triumphs and difficulties associated with foster parenting, and about the ongoing support and guidance KVC provides, individuals can confidently make the decision to become a foster parent.
Why Deciding to Become a Foster Parent Can Be Difficult
Deciding to become a foster parent can be difficult for families because, for many, it’s a step into the great unknown. This is especially true for those who might not know a lot about foster care or those who don’t have a lot of experience working with children and families involved with foster care. It can be hard to imagine what day-to-day foster parenting will really look like. Then it becomes a big leap of faith.
“If you have concerns and fears, you’re heading in the right direction because these are normal things to feel before parenting,” said Jesi Kendall, KVC’s foster parent recruiter.
As with any unknown in life, having doubts, fears, concerns and questions comes with the territory. It’s not unusual for potential foster parents to consider fostering for months to years before deciding it’s the right choice for them. But what causes families to hold back rather than jump in and make a difference? Here’s a look at some of the fears and doubts people have about foster parenting, specifically about their ability to do it well. Those include:
- Having enough patience
- Being unsure how to discipline
- Making it as a single caregiver
- Questioning their own abilities
- Fearing they need to be in a perfect place in life before exploring foster parenting
Addressing Questions and Making Connections
As with many big life decisions, a little uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. One of the most common fears that comes up for potential foster parents is uncertainty about their own preparedness for caregiving responsibilities and parenthood. But if you’re feeling uneasy about your abilities, that’s a great sign! As Jesi Kendall, Community Resource Specialist with KVC Kansas, explains, “If you have these concerns and fears, you’re heading in the right direction because these are normal things to feel before parenting.”
How can a prospective foster parent deal with these hesitations? The answer is this: Don’t go it alone. You can push past uncertainty with support and guidance from reliable and professional sources like KVC. With access to many caregiver resources, KVC actively assists those in need and provides a support system that can make all the difference. One of the most valuable resources is connecting with other similar caregivers who can help answer questions and give extra advice and support.
To help foster parents make those connections, KVC created private Facebook groups for licensed foster parents and kinship caregivers. In these groups, caregivers are able to ask questions, receive timely KVC updates, learn about fun family events, and build meaningful connections with other parents that last a lifetime. Still, no matter what foster parents and caregivers need, KVC will be there to assist.
Helping First-Time Foster Parents
Foster parents receive valuable support even before they welcome a child into their home. KVC offers a pre-service training class for caregivers, an ideal way for foster parents to get answers to their foster care questions and test the waters to see if fostering is the right move for their family. This class is required but is also key in helping caregivers build support networks and connections with other people on the same journey.
KVC also offers a first-time foster parent support group, which includes candid discussions of challenges that commonly arise for foster parents. Any new foster parents are welcome to join and find impactful guidance and camaraderie. “Children in foster care come with all their support teams, case workers and therapists, but other agencies don’t always provide the same support to their foster parents,” explains Kendall. “That’s where KVC Kansas is different – and better.” By wrapping around a foster family, KVC provides game-changing opportunities to increase placement stability, develop trust and improve caregiver-child relationships.
How KVC Kansas Supports Foster Parents
Some of the supports foster parents receive include:
- Free ongoing training and support 24/7, 365 days/year
- Unparalleled pre-service and continuing education
- Dedicated teams who wrap around children in foster care, biological families and foster families to provide the best possible support
- Support group for new foster parents
- Connections to other local, community-based support groups and resources
- Respite services
- Health insurance for the children you’re caring for
- Organized foster parent and youth activities & events
- A fun weekend away at our free Resource Family Conference (RFC), which provides a fantastic learning experience for parents and children (See all the fun families had at 2023’s RFC here!)
- Monthly reimbursement to meet the child’s needs plus assistance with back-to-school supplies and holiday gifts
KVC also provides family service coordinators to guide and work with foster parents personally. Beyond a reliable connection, coordinators check in frequently with foster families, help resolve crises, share additional training opportunities, and find other support systems to ensure families’ success. KVC’s family service coordinators are there for anything a foster parent might need.
Realizing You’re Ready to Go for It
Sometimes it takes some time before potential foster parents know they’re ready to jump in. For those still unsure, enrolling in the initial class is a great first step. As the saying goes, knowledge is power — and KVC’s class will equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed choice and decide with confidence. The class is free of charge to those who are interested, but it does require a commitment to the 10-week session. It’s an ideal way for those interested in fostering to dip their toes in and gain foundational knowledge about something that could change their lives – and children’s lives.
Kendall shares an inspiring story of a family who wanted to foster children but were uncertain about the ages of children they’d like to care for. At first, the family was convinced they wanted to care for babies or toddlers. But once they chose to move forward with licensing, they had a change of heart, opening their home to children as old as 18 years of age. They have — unexpectedly but joyfully! — found a calling in caring for teenage boys. Their inspiration comes from seeing the need and filling the gap, but their love and commitment have made a huge difference in the lives of these children. Today, they’ve fostered, adopted and even helped many of these boys go to college, and they are so glad they took the chance to foster.
Become a Foster Parent with KVC Kansas
Foster parents offer support and love to children during traumatic seasons. Caring people willing to open their hearts and homes to children and families in need can make all the difference. “The foster care system can be messy, but for those who can commit to love and support through the mess, those are my favorite stories,” Kendall says.
Curious about becoming a foster parent? KVC Kansas is here to support and guide you! Nearly 6,000 Kansas children and teens are currently in foster care and need someone like you to give them hope. Learn more about becoming a foster parent and chat with us!