10 Things Foster Parents Wish Their Case Managers Knew

Last night my wife and I had the honor of hosting our monthly adoption support group in our home. We do this once a month and it’s always refreshing. While the group is made up of adoptive parents most have been, or currently are, active foster parents. As we sat around our dining room table, enjoying one another’s company, I posed this question to the group- “What are some things you wish your case managers knew?”

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It’s not hard to hear the desperation in everyone’s voice. At the same time, it’s easy to see the passion burning in everyone’s eyes. We all got into this for one reason- we want to make a difference. Out of the outpouring of our hearts, we ran toward the chaos. Not long after, though, we realized how difficult and unending this battle would be.

It’s left us reeling, defeated and even regretful at times. But as we listened to everyone’s answers, we could still see the passion, still hear the original dream, and still feel the energy. Many of us were down, but not out. Defeated but not ready to quit.

Here are 10 things the support group said last night:

1. We know the children the best.

We spend every waking moment with the children you placed in our homes. Some of us have had, and will have, placements for months, even years. They bond to us and that’s a good thing. Please trust us when we tell you things about them and we make observations. We know them really really well because we’re doing life with them. That’s not to say that you don’t know them because we know you do. But when you have the role of first responder to strong emotional outbreaks, meltdowns and fear, it gives unique insight.

2. We actually live by a schedule.

Although it seems like we’re available at the drop of a hat, we are not. Many of us have jobs outside of our home. Please show up on time for visits & follow-ups in our home. We can’t always adjust our schedule because you got out of court later than you thought and now you’re over an hour late. Many of us have other children and they are involved in other activities. Please be respectful of that.

3. This is NOT a job, it’s a way of life. 

It’s our family. We do not get holidays off, there are no financial gains, and no one is rolling out the red carpet for us. In fact, they’re staring at us and they think we’re weird. They don’t get us. We’re okay with that but we need you to understand this. This is our life, 24/7, and sometimes it is so difficult that we don’t know if we can make it another day.

4. Point us toward good resources.

We need support groups, literature, and a listening ear. If there are any good conferences that you know of, don’t let us stumble upon them, give us a call or send us an email and give us the scoop. This helps us know that you are there for us.

5. Communicate with us.

There are certain things we need to know. Please do not withhold important information about the child from us. Especially if there was extreme trauma or abuse. Having this type of information helps us navigate tough situations or meltdowns. We need to hear from you, and we need you to return our calls. We feel alone in this more than you know. We are looking to you for support.

6. Be honest with us.

If you don’t know the answer, that’s okay. We’re fine if you tell us that you have to find out and that you’ll get back to us. It’s really frustrating when you try to give us an answer that may not be the truth or you make something up just to satisfy us.

7. We’re foster parents by choice.

We do this because we want to better the lives of children from difficult places. This is a thankless endeavor and we know that. But we entered into it willingly.

8. Paint a realistic picture of our current situation.

If there’s a chance the child will be staying longer, please do not tell us that it “Will only be a few days and then he’ll be moved to a family member’s house,” or “She’s only staying for the weekend,” or “This will only be a 48-hour deal,” or “This is an overnight placement.” We’re okay with an “I don’t know,” answer. Remember, we chose to do this, so we can handle vagueness or the unknown.

9. We’re doing you a service.

You are lucky you have us. So please treat us with respect. That goes for our time too. When we ask you for assistance or send you emails, please do not act like we’re an inconvenience. We know your job is hard and we are not downplaying that. It’s just that we are on the front lines of this whole ordeal and we have to handle emotions and fear that children in our placement experience regularly.

10. We have a lot of fears.

We fear someone walking in and taking our kids. We fear the power you have over us. We fear one of our children accusing us of something untrue and you believing it. We know this is just fear and not really true but it sure feels like it’s true at times!

We collectively recognize that many case managers do know these things. In fact, we agreed that we have all had the pleasure of working with some truly amazing people in the foster care system. However, there are many days where we’ve felt alone, and as if no one understands the struggles we have. The heart of this post is NOT to criticize but to enlighten and help.

Question: Are you a foster parent? What are some other things you wish your case manager knew? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Randy

    Great list. I was one of those rare creatures that was both a foster parent and a social worker. I often found myself in a situation where I had to say almost the same things to fellow SW’s when they were bad mouthing a foster parent who had a life and didn’t salute them.

    • Thanks Randy! So glad you liked the post. It’s quite an interesting blessing to have been able to stand on both sides of the system, I’m sure.

    • Tracy

      I was too Randy – hats off to ya! In my head I also have a list brewing of 10 things caseworkers wish we could tell foster parents, too. *sigh*

      • Linda Miller

        Tracy, as foster care parent I would really really like to see that list. No judgement, but I think it’d help. Especially now, in the calm moments………………..

      • Missy Harp

        I think that is one of the biggest problems. Communication. Foster parents can’t tell Social workers things. And Social workers are limited in what they can tell foster parents. We should all be working together for the collective good of the children. As it is now it seems as if everyone is on a different team (foster parents, birth parents, social workers, courts) and no one shares any information with the other teams. We should be united, at least somewhat united between the foster parents and social workers as we are the ones who deal with these kids the most.

  • amy

    I love this. Can it be shared with local DHS offices?

    • Hey Amy, so glad you liked the post. Feel free to share with whomever. There are share buttons at the top and bottom of the post for your convenience. Thanks again for your support!

  • Nancy

    One more thing I wish they knew/understood. We are not in this for the money. If we are doing it right, and most of us are, there is little to nothing left at the end of the month. And we could NEVER continue if we didn’t genuinely care about the children and only cared about the money.

    • Nancy, that’s great feedback. I agree! It’s about loving the children.

    • Bonnie Fauth-Lerch

      Amen! The system pushes and encourages Foster families to keep these children involved in sports and activities which I whole heartedly agree…it’s just that I wish the “system” also helped pay for these activities. Paying for 5 additional children’s sports fees and equipment multiple times a year gets very costly and the $50.00 a year (yes that’s right…$50.00) that we get reimbursed per child / per year is more of an insult than a reimbursement!!!! We always find a way. The Lord helps us provide. This truly isn’t a child’s greatest need (sports and activities) just the one thing that is a great example of “we are not in this for the money”! I salute all my fellow Foster parents out there that do all that they can to keep their children as well rounded as possible by giving them opportunities that they may never have otherwise.

  • Cathy

    This is a great list. My family has fostered for 20 years and we have been investigated twice. The last time our children, both biological and foster, were taken aside in school and questioned separately. It was a trying time. It was over in a week but it seemed like longer. I like the idea of fellowshipping with foster families on a regular basis. It needs to be something we look at setting up because we need to draw strength from others who have a simular calling. Being a foster family is not something you just do. It is away of life you choose.

    • Cathy, I’m so sorry to hear that your family had to go through that. You are right when you say that foster parenting is a choice. Thanks for your comment!

      • Phyllis Keen

        Could you send me this list in an email LVFosterparent@aol.com.
        Also could I publish the list in a book with maybe a few changes…….with your permission Phyllis

        • Phyllis, I would be happy to send you the post via email. It will not have the picture since that was purchased from a copyrighted site. With the book, you may publish under the condition that I am listed as the source/author with a link to this blog (confessionsofaparent.com). Also- the content of the list may not be changed or altered. You can, however, leave the part that is not applicable, or you do not agree with, out, or print it but make your own comment on the content (make sense?). Let me know if this works. Thanks!

  • Dani

    The biggest thing I’d add would be to NOT LIE to us! Don’t tell us things you think we want to hear. Just tell us the truth!

  • Thanks so much for your comment. So glad you liked the post. You definitely gain a whole new perspective when you’re on the other side.

  • Lisa McClure

    I totally agree with all the above! We have been fostering for almost 3 years and have had many ups and downs. The PS-MAPP classes talk about the politics of fostering, not the reality! Our biggest gripe is that our CW has been so detached from us with the children he placed in our home. They have been with us for 19 months and he came to the house 3 times now. COMMUNICATION and HONESTY would be the big ones for us. When we tell our CW something or request a service, please just get it for us!! We KNOW these children and what they need! Don’t tell me you are too busy or forgot about it, or it slipped your mind! We finally got to a point where we had to disrupt service and it was because our CW did not communicate and we were tired of talking to a brick wall.
    I started an online support group for foster parents in our area and they have been a huge help, so bravo to you for also fellowshipping with other fosters! They are the only ones who know exactly how it really is being a foster family. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Lisa, I agree on the communication side of things. One of my biggest gripes. Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

    • Michelle Cloutier

      Does your state have Guardians ad Litem or a CASA program? These are usually volunteers who speak for the child in care. Their sole concern is for the needs and best interest of the child. They are required to visit *at least* monthly, and (speaking as a GAL) their main role is to ride the CM to make sure the children are getting the services they need. No child or foster family should feel like they don’t have an advocate.

      • Michelle, we have had some great GAL’s in the decade we fostered. So glad to hear that you’re serving as one. Thanks for sharing.

        • Karen Siegel Fielder

          Probably NOT in MARION County where its corrupt corrupt corrupt!!!!

      • Karen Siegel Fielder

        Don’t glamorize what the GAL’s are truly like in Marion Co. There is a very corrupt agency Child Advocates that is FOR PROFIT- 5 million a year as a matter of fact!!! They do NOT take the recommendations being given to them and play GOD!!! This agency at the hands of Cindy Booth as Executive Director and Cindy Dean as Counsel is so biased and if you don’t get on their good side they will actually place the children with their other alcoholic unlicensed parent that abuses the children uses the children for what they can help them out with (parenting the other kids, driving their parent around,etc) and you will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting it in court and to the validity of the GAL’s statements which shouldn’t be like this had the system not be such a broken one like it is today. DO the research!! GOOGLE the GAL’s in Indiana and don’t just believe what you hear!!

  • Diane Allen

    I am unable to email this to anyone, any chance you could email it to me so that I can share it? DianeAllen123@aol.com

    • Hey Diane, so sorry to hear this. Would it not allow you to share from the email share button at the top of the post? I will definitely email you the shortlink so you can send it out. No problem!

      • Diane Allen

        the email icon won’t light up to work for me.

        • Should be all better. Did you get the email with the link?

          • Diane Allen

            Yes, I got it, thanks….I forwarded it to my foster care case manager.

          • Awesome! Thanks for sharing it.

  • momofcrts

    Great list. As a parent who had a child in care for 9 months, this is something I wish our social worker would know. Very poor communication from her indeed. The foster parents were amazing, we thank them so much for the work they did with our son who is now back in our home again.

    • Bad communication is so frustrating. I have been there!

  • Sharon Vandivere

    I’ve been a foster parent for 5 years; kind of “retired” now that we have adopted our latest two foster children. I’m also on a foster parent panel that our state foster parent ombudsman organized for the training sessions for new child welfare workers in Maryland. Part of the idea of the panel is, I think, exactly the purpose of your blog post here. Most of the themes that come up are very similar, with the #1 theme being the need for communication. Incidentally, one of the most common questions workers ask in these panels is what it feels like to have a foster child leave our homes and how we cope with that.

    One thing I might modify is #9; personally, instead of saying, “we’re doing you a service,” I’d say, “Please treat us as equal members a professional team.”

    • Hey Sharon, good idea. I like the way you worded that. Thanks!

    • Beth F.

      We are resource parents in MD too. Is your group in a certain county?

  • Nicky, that’s awesome. So glad it can be of use to you.

  • Conor Scholes

    I think when a case manager knows that you have adoption as one of your goals, they assume you only the want the child to be adoptable for you, and don’t care about reunification. That sometimes leads to them dismissing opinions, which stinks. Thanks for your article!

    • Conor, I have seen this play out. Great point. Thanks for commenting!

    • Lon Hurst

      This is so true Conor. Just because you want to adopt and you treat a child as your own doesn’t mean that you desire to take them away from their birth parents. I treat each of my children as my own and tomorrow brings what tomorrow brings. They will always be mine in my heart. Our current child came to us a birth and we have had her 14 months so she will always be mine but that doesn’t mean she can’t be someone else’s too. Her caseworker had a hard time believing that we wanted to adopt but we were not going to be a hindrance to reunification. Every question we asked she answered as though we were only trying to figure out how to adopt her. Overtime she has seen how we are and she finally understands our calling to be foster parents.

    • 2mommas

      Exactly… or that since you’re a preadoptive home, ANY kid or sibling group will do as long as it fits generally into your desired age ranges… not worrying about other dynamics.

  • Sarah, I agree. One of the biggest frustrations we had was that we did not receive info (or accurate info) on the child and then the child would act out and we would have no idea what was going on. I’m with you on that! Thanks for commenting.

  • shelly foster

    My sentiments, exactly. Very well said. Nothing else needs to be said…thank you!

    • Shelly, so glad you liked the post. Thanks for commenting.

  • Kathy

    they need to tell us everything they know on the children before we decide to bring them in our home

    • Kathy, I agree! We have felt the same way. Thx for your comment.

  • Doug Yeager

    Another: the relationship between foster parent and case worker is complicated. The case worker is there as support, but also as the police. Too often workers confuse the roles, pretend we are all on the same side until they lower the boom. Too often workers and providers blame the parents and move to disrupt a placement which is the safe thing to do from the institutional view but catastrophic for the RAD kid.

    • Doug, great input. I’ve seen this confusion and experienced it first hand. Thx for your comment!

  • Lynn Lunger

    how about the fact that moving kids from 1 home to another 3 or 4 times in a year really messes them up and they have a hard time bonding and making friends just keep them in one

    • Lynn, I agree. So frustrating and traumatizing. We’ve experienced this personally. Thanks for leaving a comment.

    • Kelley M. Klor

      That is true, however, when case workers aren’t truthful and families are blindsided, moving is the result.

  • Allison

    Please do not tell us the placement we accept is long term, only to find out later that you really have another placement in the wings closer to the office, and you need a quick fix for the weekend/holiday/school vacation.

  • Stacy Shaw

    I plan to share this blog with our Case Managers at our foster Care agency. It is important that we all keep in mind we are working together for the same goals for the children. This is a great reminder to make sure we are listening to what the foster parents need as well. Thank you to all of the dedicated foster parents out there.

    • Stacy, so glad to hear that you are going to share this post. I pray it moves people into action and helps to guide and teach. Thanks for your comment.

  • Debra Lewis

    I am a group home parent now almost 4 year and I’ve been a foster parent for 10 years prior. I agree that we do this because we love the children and we love what we do. I have 6 boy now but I’ve had as many as 9 with developmental disabilities. I sacrifice sleep and a social life to do what I love. I have a brother who is dying and I was told I will not be able to leave to go to the funeral in NYC if I don’t have a secondary person in my home. I found someone that knows my boys and I was told by my licensing monitor that this person is not qualified to be my secondary person. So should my brother die soon I will have to miss his funeral. My sponsoring agency hasn’t offered me any support as yet.

    My fellow foster parents what shall I do?

    I appreciate having a forum like this where others understand what we experience behind the scenes.

    Thank you

    • Hey Debra, so glad you feel safe sharing this here. That’s not an easy thing to deal with. Is there another office you can call with this question?? Could you keep working your way up the chain through supervisors?? Just some ideas. I’m going to point some of the folks in our support group in Indy to your comment and let them give some insight as well.

    • Jenny Mosier

      Debra, I’m so sorry you have not felt supported! You are in such a tough spot. Did the licensing monitor elaborate on why that person isn’t qualified? Would they be able to do an emergency certification for that person because of these unique circumstances? Does your sponsoring agency offer any sort of respite care? I agree with Mike’s suggestion about working your way up the chain, and it might be that you need to keep this at the front of their to-do list & just be that squeaky wheel until they help you come to an acceptable solution. I know the rules vary from state to state, and maybe even county to county. I’m sure it’s very discouraging to not have any feasible or clear options during this difficult time.

  • Phyllis Keen

    Debra Lewis What state do you live in ?

  • Rick Mohr

    I have been a child welfare caseworker for going on 15 years, and have had the unfortunate need to place quite a number of children in foster homes, including the homes we license and maintain on our own, as well as through foster homes that are licensed and maintained by private non-profit foster care agencies that we contract with. I have met a lot of AMAZING foster/adoptive parents, and a few not-so-amazing ones. The people who accuse foster parents of being in it for the money are simply full of crap. I know how much the per diem rates are for our foster homes, and that money might not even cover the added cost of groceries, water bill, electric bill, and clothes for the foster kids. There is no financial profit in it for foster parents. I also know how intrusive we are (because of laws and regulations) in the homes and lives of the foster parents. I agree with everything stated above, and have always found it best to be up front and honest with a foster parent when I have had to place a child because of an emergency situation. At the time of placement, the caseworker usually doesn’t have all of the information, but it is the responsibility of that worker to obtain as much info as possible during the investigation, and pass it along to the foster parents as it relates to the child’s possible behavioral issues, school needs, medical/health issues, mental health issues, and whether there are possible relatives who might be available and approved as caretakers. Many people have told me that they wouldn’t want my job because of the ugly things I see and know about people and what they do to kids. But, I’m not sure I have what it takes to be a foster parent. Foster parents in general are special people. The good ones are PRICELESS.

    • Rick, thanks so much for your encouraging words to foster parents. They are priceless and much appreciated.

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  • Ally Copper

    I wish my case worker understood that we don’t always know what questions to ask. We currently have our second foster child, so we are relatively new to this whole thing. The case worker only seems to update us on things when we ask direct questions … but the truth is, we are still figuring out the system, and we don’t always know what questions to ask. I wish she would just tell us everything. We feel out of the loop at times. I think she just assumes we understand everything at the level she does. I don’t care if she is redundant or tells us stuff we already know. I just want to be informed.

    • Ally, I understand where you are coming from. When you are in learning mode (which everyone usually is in Foster Care) you need mass information. It’s all about repetition. Thanks for your comment!

    • Sarah

      This is one of the reasons I go to the court dates whenever possible.

  • Cathy, totally agree. It would make things so much easier. Thanks!

  • Joseph White

    How about this as well: If you make a promise, keep it. There is nothing worse than taking a kid to a visit and their parents not showing up. It’s easier to stay away from the Office, than to explain why we aren’t doing a visit because mommy and daddy didn’t show up.

    • Joseph, great insight. I totally agree!

  • Jill Cummings

    I am a CASA worker. I have fostered four children. Two were placed for adoption. The other two were emergencies. I just threw my hat in the ring to do respite because it has been three years since we adopted our 6 and 7 year old. Our 9 year old is from China and is the sweetest child you could ever hope to meet. I could write a novel about what I would like to see changed. However, I will pull out the one that gets me the worst. Sometimes it is unavoidable. I get that. I am a reasonable person. However, stop letting these cases go on and on and on. Make a plan. Follow the plan. Then rip the band aid off and make a decision!!!!! Stop letting these kids languish in care. They are often loved and cared for, but the trauma done to them is first done by their original caretaker. Then the system damages them further by moving them around or letting them stay with someone for a long time who they have come to love and trust. Then they are ripped away from them. The damage is done and it is forever imprinted in their brains and on their hearts, even if they are infants. They can’t verbalize it, but they know. The little girl I am advocating for now has been taken from her mom and put in a placement where she was adored. She had to be moved to another foster home for reasons I can’t explain. She has had three different people parenting her in one year. She needs to go back to her mom or be placed in a pre-adoptive home. It is that simple. Just get it done!

    • Jill, agreed. Sometimes the best decision for the children’s sake is to move quickly and suddenly instead of drag things out.

  • martina

    These are all great! I would like to see things and discussion of what you wish the general population knew about doing foster care. The one thing thing that drives me crazy is when someone says, “I could never do it, my heart would break.” Like I’m heartless, lol? This isn’t about us, it is putting yourself aside to make a life better for a child. God provides the healing. The, “you must make a lot of money off of them,” doesn’t settle well either…. I’m sorry, starting my 10 things in your comments!

    • Martina, love your comment. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jenn Hogan

    I have had the experience for over 14 years of being a foster and adoptive parent…the biggest point I had always wished from my case managers was, “we all have a parenting style, we all have ideas, some will be successful and some will fail, and we learn from them all. You may or may not have children BUT, with that said, if you have never had the opportunity to parent a child with the trauma of being abused and taken from their family, don’t tell us how to parent these children and belittle us for not doing it the way you would”. Many times I was faced with “you have to do this or that” “if this was my child I would”…the fact is…not every child is going to learn and develop the same as the next child and when there are the emotional, substance, and chemical challenges children will learn and develop in an even more challenging way, we all need to work together to help this child grow up to being the best they can be, not have one person telling the rest of the team of people how to.

    • Elisa Bennett

      I think there is also a very important topic that has not been mentioned so far. The biological parents are not always the abusers or monsters the CW’s make them out to be. Some of these children should have never been removed from their homes to begin with and we are given incorrect information about why the child was removed. Some of these kids want to go home to their parents. Some of them actually belong home. But the CW wants everyone to parent the same way as a 50’s stepford wife family that is perfect, there is no such thing. Nobody is perfect and there are plenty of parenting styles that work. Please reunify these children home quickly and stop dragging it out. Alot of lies and false info is given to us and the bio parents. They also need to stop removing children who do not need to be placed, for what i find out later are the most ridiculous reasons.. Or because of assumptions made, or because the CW thinks that the child should be adopted from the start and so they dont try to reunify. Biological parents have feelings too, miss their children and want them home. Not all of them actually abused their children. But the ones that do actually abuse these kids, deserve to be in jail.

  • Lindalintlicker

    What I want foster parents to know as a worker…..

    ~ this may not be true of all workers, but it’s true for me and most of the ladies at my agency.

    1. Be patient with us.
    I swear I am not trying to blow you off. It’s just that, on top of your kid’s temper tantrum or the concerns you had over a visit, I had a 6 year old who reported sexual abuse in her foster home, a 12 year boy who got suspended from school today, a report due on Friday, and court this afternoon. I want to help all of you, and you’re all important to me, but I have to prioritize certain things above others (and sometimes I don’t agree with what gets moved to the top of the heap, either).

    2. Be persistent
    Call me, email me, call me again. On any given day I’ve got tons of things happening and I feel a sense of distress knowing something might slip to the way side. You are important; all of the kids on my caseload are. So if for some reason I’ve forgotten, don’t hesitate to contact me repeatedly. Express frustration about this if needed, and help me to understand 1. your expectation for how soon to be called back, and 2. what I can do to communicate with you more effectively (let me know if emailing, texting, ect. is better)

    3. Utilize my supervisor
    If I am not following through, it is not on purpose. Call my supervisor; she will help me get organized, support me, and most importantly, make sure you get what you need.

    4. We care SO much.
    We do not spend the time that you do with each kiddo on our case load, but we care for them (and you) very much. We lie awake at night. We cry in our car on the way home. We pray for your family in church on Sundays.

    5. We appreciate what you do
    Every time you’ve helped me understand an issue going on with a child or dropped a child off for a parent visit, you have given me a gift of a second of time to take a deep breath, eat a bite of food, or help a child or parent in distress. This is never, ever lost on me.

    6. Court is a non-negotiable aspect of our job
    If I am going to court, I will always tell you “I might be late because of court.” Believe me when I say this. Sometimes a hearing that is supposed to start at 2 starts at 4, and there is absolutely not one thing we can do about that. Also, if we never did any work after court, we would work all weekend long to make it up. Please try to be flexible with me when you can, and honest with me when you can’t.

    7. Don’t lie to me
    I will always be honest with you. I will always do my best to communicate the truth about what could happen and tell you when I don’t know. Please help me by being honest about issues you’re having in your home, accidents that may have happened, or how you really feel about a situation. We can work together through honesty; without it, we waste each other’s time.

    8. Thank me sometimes.
    There is nothing more validating then hearing a child say thank you, but a close second is hearing a foster parent express appreciation. “Thank you for all of your help.” It’s like music to my case worker ears, and it helps me to be a better worker for your family when we have these positive experiences. I will thank you and express my appreciation to you, also.

    9. Tell me what you need.
    Be totally honest. Tell me what you need or want; how can I help? Does your foster child need clothing, do you feel you need more support for certain behaviors? Let me know! Sometimes foster parents don’t ask for exactly what they need and I don’t know that the need exists.

    10. Remember the value of the biological parent.
    We feel a tremendous amount of frustration and anger with what these children have been through, often at the hands of their birth parents. We are baffled by their behavior, too. We often find out, however, that the biological parents have been seriously abused themselves. I want what is best for the child; you want what is best for the child; we need to evaluate that and work toward it together without blaming and shaming the family of origin.

    • Linda, this is great insight from one who is in the trenches from the other side. Thanks so much.

  • Monica Walker

    I’m a foster/kinship parent. It’s been a difficult year. For me, Resources/Communication is key. We’ve been trying to get intense therapy started for a year and finally it’s moving towards it I pray on it. Adoption was put on hold because of acts (we were not aware of or the worker) the child now 7 was doing towards our 4 year old. I do not want to give up. I have hope but just feel alone…we’re concerned for our sons safety. Is a child abled to be retrained sort of speak through therapy? Thank you, I love the article. I don’t feel alone knowing others think this way too.

    • Monica, resources are critical. Agreed!

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  • nikki

    i wish that case management would do their job and stop telling us about changes at the last minute and dumping their responsibilities on us and acting perfect…only jesus is perfect…..its not fair to us and not fair to the fosterchildren

    • Nikki, totally understand the frustrations with last minute. We’ve been there.

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  • 2mommas

    We are dealing with this now… *sigh*

  • CB

    Thank you for the understanding list. Please share with all Fostering services in particular local authorites and their social workers who in my experience so far find the foster carers a nuisance. I only send emails or make calls to them because i need their support. It would be lovely if they could take the time to respond. Out of four social workers there was only one that willingly retuned calls or responded to emails. Even their line managers ignore you. It’s a tragedy. And yes we have fear of false allagations. S9cial workers need to support the carers more and believe that they know what they are doing is in the best interest of the child. I have been working with children in education for over 20 years and raised two children successfully. I do have worthwhile knowledge.

  • Tyson Lindsay

    Be upfront and truthful. It does nobody any good to leave out important details about the child just to get a them placed. The child deserves someone who is able to meet their needs.

  • Tyson Lindsay

    Another one. Treat us like we are part of team. And not just glorified babysitters.

  • Stacy

    I am a foster family agency social worker. I have a foster parent who I suspect is dishonest. I want to not come off as I policing the situation (as told above), but I suspect that the children are not being treated right. I could not sleep well the other night as I worried about them. For example, I saw that the child did not have a booster seat and I told the foster parent that the child needed a booster seat. The foster parent dismissed what I had stated. The foster parent has the medicine on the kitchen counter which the children could easily acquire. I informed the foster parent that the medicine has to be locked up and again I was dismissed for my statement. The foster parent has been told numerous times that the medicine needs to be locked up, but she does not follow the regulations. I want to be helpful and communicate in a manner that we can work as a team, but I continue to have road blocks when I feel that my voice is unimportant. The one child states that he and his sibling are not paid an accurate allowance amount. Therefore, I inform the foster parent that she could provide the allowance amount while I am present, but she became defensive stating that the child is always complaining. I want to be supportive and believed that if the exchange occurred with me present, then there would be no complaints on both sides. The foster parent did not agree to that arrangement, which leads me to wonder, is she dishonest? And if so, what else is she doing? And then I get more worried. I have told my supervisor and the administrator that I want the children moved to a different home. The children can have unsupervised phone calls with their grandma, but it is a major struggle for the foster parent to do this simple act. When I am present with the children, I have them call the grandma. What can I do to follow these statements? Note, it is really only one foster parent out of the ones that I have that really concerns me, the other foster parents, I do not worry about the children.

  • Sue Valleau-Schiel

    I think your last one really touched me. I am scared. Scared they will take her. Scared I will make a mistake. Scared about the future – how will I handle it if she goes home.
    I am also angry – angry that this baby is dealing with all this. Angry that nobody told me about vouchers and reimbursement for equipment had to be within the first three months. Angry that I can hold her in recovery after surgery and the parents aren’t there – but, I can’t get her hair cut without parent permission.
    I feel lost, alone, defensive, judged and inadequate.
    I’m tired, lonely and totally in love with this innocent baby.
    They need to understand the Emotional Rollar Coaster we are on every day.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Oh, Sue! I hear your pain. You are doing a great job loving her.

  • Monica Hall

    If we ask to level our traumatized children up a notch to therapeutic level it’s not because we are scheming for more money to spend on ourselves, it is because taking our children to numerous specialists to big cities and all the resulting doctor visits, therapists, and numerous visits back and forth to PPT’s, IEP’s, ACR’s, EMDR Appts and special diets add up as do babysitting fee’s for our other children, missed days of work and gas to transport all these places.

  • I wish they also understood that they respond differently to different people. Just because one parent couldn’t handle the constant chatter doesn’t mean she’s ADHD or having constant behaviors. And different personalities can respond to behaviors in different ways.

    I’d also love for them to know that we don’t all live attached to our mailboxes, so notices about meetings need to be sent several weeks in advance so we can request time off.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Good point about different people responding differently.

  • Linny

    Was a foster parent many years ago when my children were young. Not necessarily the “biggest” issue, but one we dealt with pretty regularly was balancing the needs of our biological children with those that we fostered. Our foster children demanded a lot of time – appointments with therapists, case workers, family visits, etc. Our own children were expected to welcome these new children, share their belongings, parents, etc., then at some point say good-bye. They were often forced into the background, even by extended family who wanted to love on the “poor foster child”. Caseworkers would show up with presents for foster children, take them out for ice cream. Christmas was difficult, as the foster children got so much more. Our own children were wonderful about understanding that foster children had special needs and unfortunate circumstances, and never complained. But we actually stopped fostering (after 5 years) when we started seeing signs of neglect in our youngest. My oldest son told us the biggest relief after we stopped fostering was “not having so many rules.” (Because we had to create such specific behavior expectations when fostering that had never been issues before.) I believe that our children grew up more understanding, tolerant, and compassionate because of our years of fostering, but I think the effects on the family members are under-addressed.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney


  • Laura Denise Mitcheltree Downi

    1) Foster homes can be excellent without automatically looking to adopt every child from the time they’re placed.
    Love takes time to grow.
    It’s demeaning the work I do for people to constantly say “languishing in foster care”. My kids have not been languishing for the past 20 months. They’ve been healing, growing, learning, and now… thriving.
    2) I don’t do this “for the money”, but I deserve the money, earn every penny, and it’s mine.
    What little may be left over is used to address the high wear and tear on the house, and my comfort. That’s right… MY COMFORT.
    I could work an outside job making more money. I chose to do this as a way of life and an occupation, similar to joining the military.
    Nurses, preachers, police, teachers, and social workers all join up because they want to help people, but I have never heard anyone scrutinizing others for how they spend their compensation.
    Foster parents are constantly slammed over “the money”, to where everyone is rushing to deny any financial gain.
    If I’m turning in receipts, doling out allowance, dressing kids nice, feeding them good food, etc then no one has a right to begrudge me what little may be left over (if any).

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Well stated!

  • James Meserve

    I wish they knew that even though we were trained and know the goal, that we can still feel. No matter if it’s foster only or foster to adopt, when a child is reunited we are allowed to be sad and we are allowed to feel a loss. The perception is worse if your foster to adopt and have those feelings.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney


  • Brandy

    We became foster parents when our nephews went into foster care, we started out as just wanting to help out…2 1/2 years later, we are on the adoption track. I guess the biggest hurdles for us was, we were not experienced in dealing with the system and felt like because we were kinship placements that they just expected us to go along with anything and at times we felt like we were taken advantage of. During this journey we went thru 4 social workers and each sw did things differently. At first we only had one nephew (2 months old) and when it was starting to look like reunification may not be possible, they threatened to take away the baby if we were not willing to take his 2 year old brother. We felt trapped and how could they do such a thing. But all they had to do was ask, because more than likely we would have taken him anyways if they gave the option to discuss it as a family cuz we have 3 natural children of our own. There was always a lack of communication ( unanswered texts, emails, and phone calls for weeks) our frustration was causing us to doubt what we were doing. Sorry for the rambling.

    • Lack of communication is so very frustrating. I always said when we were waiting on a reply from our social worker that I didn’t care if he just told one of his 10 kids to pick up the phone and call me to say he didn’t have an answer yet. Just send me something to validate me!