How to Help Your Fellow Foster Parent

Today I had someone connect me with a new foster mom going through the struggle of finding daycare.  While I’m not all that knowledgeable on providers in my area, it did stir up a desire to connect and reach out to this mom.  It can be a tough journey and in some sense an isolating experience because of the uniqueness and privacy issues of the children’s needs.  I’ve read posts about how others can be sensitive, understanding, and helpful towards foster parents, but it got me thinking about how foster parents can be there for each other.  I posed the question to one of my foster parent support groups, and here is the list of what they came up with:

  1. Trade babysitting favors.  Date night is a lot less stressful when you know the person watching the kids is capable and familiar with the needs of the children.
  2. Provide respite.  Sometimes you need to go out of town or just take a break.  The easiest way to find respite is through someone you know and trust.
  3. Bring meals.  Bring each other meals when one of you just received a new placement.  Make it a tradition that you’ll both benefit from.
  4. Offer transportation.  Sometimes the scheduling between visits and appointments gets hectic.  Offer rides to and from appointments or carpool when able.
  5. Have a clothing exchange.  Don’t let those extra clothing bins go to waste!  If they’re collecting dust, lend them to a friend who just received a child who wears that size.
  6. Stay in for play dates. Sit and chat over brunch at home with a foster mom who has a lot of little ones and can’t get out easily.
  7. Join a support group.  Find an online community or local support group through your agency to talk to people who can commiserate and offer advice.
  8. Lend a listening ear.  No one is an island.  It’s okay to have someone you can confide in and share the struggles of parenting with.
  9. Offer services.  If you have a skill (like cutting hair, photography, teaching piano lessons, or sewing), offer those services at a free or reduced fee for foster children in your community.
  10. Ice cream delivery.  Bring over the ice cream (and wine!)  when a fellow foster mom just said goodbye to a placement.  A shoulder to cry on would be a great follow up to the ice cream.
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