Foster care is a safe place for kids while their birth family works to resolve conflict and learn healthy parenting skills before kids are safely reunified. Foster care is designed to be a temporary, safe place for children to live while biological families correct whatever issues they need to in order to bring their family back together.
While many factors can cause a child or teen to enter foster care, abuse and/or neglect are the most common. When social workers and courts determine a home is no longer safe for a child, child welfare organizations work with the family to resolve the conflicts or disruptions that have led to the child needing foster care.
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Why We Need More Nebraska Foster Parents
There is a constant need for foster parents in Nebraska.
“We want to ensure that we’re able to provide as much consistency and normalcy for kids as possible,” explains Taylor Steiner, KVC Nebraska’s Foster Parent Recruitment Coordinator. “One of the ways we can provide that is to ensure that we’re keeping kids within their same city or town.”
The more foster parents we have across the state, the more often we’re able to provide a home for children in foster care within their existing community.
“Being removed is traumatic enough,” Steiner notes. “If we can find homes within 15 minutes of their area, it can help to ease the stressors that come with the foster care system.”
The loss of existing licensed foster homes is another reason Nebraska needs more foster parents. While the primary goal of foster care is safe reunification, sometimes that doesn’t happen. When birth families are unable to resolve the conflicts or disruptions that necessitated foster care, sometimes foster parents will adopt or provide guardianship for the youth they’re caring for. When they provide permanency, children have a long term, permanent loving home.
At that point, many of these licensed homes close. However, there are still thousands of Nebraska children who need temporary foster care. As these licensed homes close, children in need of foster parents remain. This is part of the reason why the need for foster parents throughout Nebraska is so great.
The Importance of Fostering Teens and Sibling Sets
Fostering teens and sibling sets can sound intimidating at first, but the need here is huge. At KVC Nebraska, we want to keep siblings unified when possible. Many times, one sibling may be a teen and the other under eight. As much as we can, we hope to keep siblings together to maintain the sibling bond and protective factor.
Fostering teens can be a great experience for foster parents. With many teens, parenting looks more like encouraging and equipping youth with independent living skills, and far fewer immediate needs than younger children. Think: rather than cooking for a toddler, it’s teaching teens to cook. Rather than teaching the ABCs, it’s helping with English homework. “We just have to look at it from the whole picture,” Steiner says. “Older youth need a boost of love too.”
By fostering teens, a foster parent has the unique opportunity to help them improve upon their existing skills and teach them more essential skills for their journey into adulthood.
“We need a lot of foster parents wanting to care for teens and siblings,” Steiner notes. Kids of all ages have different joys and different struggles. When you look at the full picture and the full opportunities of older children, you can look past your fears and see what’s possible. Plus, KVC is there every step of the way and offers invaluable support to help you as you care for teens and siblings.
We’re Here to Support You
1. You Don’t Have to Feel Ready
By reaching out and learning more about becoming a foster parent, you are in no way committing to be a foster parent right now. It’s okay if you just want to learn more! You’re simply saying that you’ve considered becoming a foster parent. You’re just saying you’re interested — that’s it. There are no strings attached when you request more information about foster parenting. There’s no contract or commitment you have to make. You’re starting a conversation to see if being a foster parent is right for you.
“I had the best conversation with someone the other day,” Steiner remembers. “The potential foster parent said, ‘Yeah, I don’t even know all that fostering entails. But I think it’s cool. What is it?’ Those are the types of conversations I’m looking to have with people.”
No matter where you’re at in your level or readiness and commitment, if you have an interest, we’re here to talk with you. Click here to show your interest and learn more about becoming a foster parent in Nebraska.
2. You Don’t Have to Be the Perfect Parent
If you don’t feel confident about being a foster parent today, you’re not alone. We’ll equip you with the tools you need and help you get there. It’s also helpful to remember that most people don’t feel confident about becoming any kind of parent — whether biological, foster or adoptive.
“There’s no perfect parent,” Steiner says. “We’re all just trying to figure it out together.” In fact, as you go through KVC’s foster parent training classes, you’ll learn alongside numerous other families who likely have the same fears and doubts as you. You won’t be alone through this process. You’ll have the full support of our training and licensing teams and you’ll have other families to add to your support system too.
3. We Offer 24/7 Support for Foster Parents
You’ll never have to go through a challenge alone as a foster parent. KVC Nebraska offers 24/7, 365 support from a foster care specialist. You can reach out to your dedicated specialist whenever you have a question or problem, big or small. Because sometimes, you just need someone to process something with you.
“Sometimes you just want to know, ‘Am I doing this right? Am I overreacting?” Taylor explains. “That’s what our foster care specialists are there for. Sometimes it’s the littlest things like having someone to vent to or getting help to figure out an issue.”
Our foster care specialists are here to support you at any time, day or night. Whether you need to vent, get advice or find a new solution, help is available.
4. We Welcome Diversity
The main qualification for becoming a foster parent with KVC Nebraska is having an open heart. We’re always looking for foster families of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. At KVC Nebraska, we are 100% interested in working with foster parents who are LGBTQIA+, single and of all ethnicities and religions. “We want these families to know that there’s no hesitation,” Steiner says. “We’re happy to accept them with open arms.”
We have many conversations with families about working with children of different cultures, religions and ways of life. Being open to youth of all backgrounds is essential. We only ask foster parents to have an open heart and a desire to help children experiencing foster care feel safe and comfortable.
One current area of extreme need at KVC Nebraska is Spanish-speaking foster parents. “Imagine going into a new home and having to navigate it all as a kid, where those caring for you don’t speak your language,” Steiner mentions. “That’s why it’s really helpful to have foster homes that speak both English and Spanish.”
5. You’ll Enjoy Education With a Side of Fun
Every two years, we put on a massive event called the Resource Family Conference. We bring all of our foster parents and the youth they’re caring for in foster care together for a fun, free weekend conference complete with a complimentary hotel stay. It’s just one more way we support and encourage our families.
“The purpose of the conference is to provide education and training hours for the foster parents,” Taylor notes. “The really cool piece of it is that while the foster parents are in all of these trainings, the children in foster care are having the best weekend ever.”
With trainers, keynote speakers and tons of resources, foster parents gain high quality training to continue their success. In the meantime, the kids are enjoying an incredible weekend that often includes walking the field at University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium, dancing with the cheerleaders, going to the movies and having tons of fun while winning awesome prizes at the carnival.
Start Your Foster Parenting Journey Today
At KVC Nebraska, we provide education and material to help you make the decision whether or not to be a foster parent. If you’re joining a foster parent training class, you’re not required to care for a child in foster care as soon as you’re done with the class. Participating in the classes just says you’re ready to take the next step simply to gain more knowledge about being a foster care parent.
Sign up now to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Nebraska. We’re here to support you 100% of the way through your journey. As you learn more about foster care, you’ll be able to determine if it’s the right choice for you.