By Cassandra Dittmer
Director of Family Preservation & Model Fidelity, KVC Nebraska
During times of crisis when birth parents are unable to care for their children, which can be due to a wide range of factors, a foster parent can provide a safe place for children to live and grow until they can safely return home. In 2016, KVC Nebraska supported 1,000 young people in foster homes, and 40% were 13 years of age or older.
Currently, there are over 3,500 children and youth are in foster care in the state of Nebraska. That’s a lot of young people who need a safe, nurturing environment and caring, supportive adults to help them through a confusing time in their life. If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent but haven’t signed up for the free training classes, consider these top 10 reasons to sign up for foster parent training now:
#10 Test and Refresh What You Learned In School
Can you name the capital of all 50 states in the U.S.? Do you know the difference between an obtuse and acute triangle? Or can you state your name and where you’re from in Spanish? Kids ages 0-18 can enter foster care and foster parents are an important partner in making sure children stay on track academically. Your knowledge can not only help them complete homework, but can build trust between you and a child. Even if you don’t have all the answers, you can help them work through problems and solve them together.
#9 Make a Difference in the Life of a Child
The difference you can make as a foster parent has the ability to change generations and break the cycle of abuse and neglect. Children learn what it takes for families to be safe, stable and abuse-free from trustworthy adults like foster parents. Through these lessons, they have a greater chance of providing security and safety for their future children, and their children’s children.
#8 Get Back to Being Cool
Ever hear the words “get with the times!” or “you are so lame!” Well, fostering teens can help you become ‘cool’ again. You can learn what LOL, YOLO, BTW, TTYL & BRB actually means. You will be dialed in to the latest fashion trends and become a social media expert on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.!
#7 Specify the Child’s Age and Gender
Do you just love changing diapers, or do you prefer caring for a child who is a little more independent? As a foster parent, you can select the age of child you are most comfortable caring for. You can even specify which gender you prefer! Every age has its perks and every child needs a safe, loving home.
#6 Parent Without a Lifetime Commitment
Fostering has all of the challenges and rewards that come with parenting a biological child, but without a lifetime commitment. If you need a break after a child in your care safely returns home, you can take it! Take that time to recharge your batteries and prepare for the next great kid to come into your home.
Children of every age are naturally drawn to play even with no toys or playmates. Blocks, board games, dress-up, imaginary play, outdoor activities – you name it, it’s all fun! Playing also boosts creativity, improves health, increases happiness and connects us to those that we play with. Fostering will bring a spirit of playfulness back into your home and your life.
#4 Transform Children Beyond Their Current Form
Transformation is defined as moving something beyond its current form. Children in foster care have experienced abuse, neglect or other family challenges and require support to help them make sense of what’s happening and move forward from it. While children will grow physically, you will play a part in helping them growing socially, emotionally and cognitively.
#3 Transform Yourself Beyond Your Current Form
We often hear from our current KVC foster parents that fostering has transformed them. They feel like they have become better versions of themselves, are more connected to their communities, and have developed a greater ability to empathize with others.
#2 Give Your Life Purpose
There is no greater feeling in the world than discovering your purpose in life. While not everyone is called to be a foster parent, everyone has the ability to do something to help. Consider opening your heart and your home to a child today, make a donation or volunteer.
#1 Invest in a Child’s Future
Every child just needs one caring, committed adult to help them move forward from past traumas on go on to become a successful adult. Travis Lloyd and Josh Shipp are national speakers on the topic of overcoming trauma and both had foster parents who were wholly committed to supporting them. Their foster parents weren’t any different than anyone else. They simply chose to keep investing in children who themselves didn’t believe they were worth the investment.