Whether you’re the kind of person who enjoys mingling with a group or a keep-to-yourself type of person, support groups are a resource that you need to tap into as a foster parent. Support groups provide you with streetwise information that you can’t get from reading books about foster care. It doesn’t matter if you plan to share your soul at support group meetings or just sit and listen, you’ll gain valuable insights, gather much needed information, and develop your identity as a foster parent.
Support group meetings can be a lot of fun. Many foster parents actually look forward to support group meetings as an opportunity to catch up on what’s going on in other people’s families and swap a few stories. Inevitably, at every support group meeting there will be at least one family that is really struggling with a situation or a foster child who is really troubled. For people who enjoy helping others, this is a grand opportunity. When you’re the family that’s needing support, support groups are a huge resource to you. But, it’s important that you attend them regularly and early on to get to know the people who are involved.
When there are support groups offered for foster parents in your area, you should go and get to know the other foster parents there. Develop relationships and friendships with other foster families. You have something in common with everyone attending. And often, there is babysitting provided at foster parent support group meetings.
If you encounter problems, let’s say, with a caseworker, support group meetings can be a good opportunity for you to learn a little bit about experiences that other foster parents have had with that same caseworker. Foster parents will have some opinions to share about judges and lawyers as well. Though you may not have a say about whether or not to continue working with a particular set of people on your child’s team, it can be infinitely valuable to know a little bit about how a particular judge or caseworker behaved for another foster family. It can help you guide your child and your family through uncertain times.
Support group meetings are a vital part of the overall experience of foster parenting. They connect you to a broader point of view about your foster child’s team as well the process itself. Support groups can be a fun place to get to know new people and enjoy time with others who understand the challenges that you face and the special circumstances that all foster parents contend with. Though other, extended family members, friends, or neighbors may not completely understand what you’re doing as a foster parent or how to deal with difficult situations or troubled children, other foster parents will understand and relate to you right away. Support group meetings offer you a chance to let your hair down, get out of the house and enjoy the company of other like-minded people while gathering useful information that will help you do your job even more effectively.