I’m writing this from the table in our motorhome; the motorhome we bought two years ago when we decided we were ready to retire, sell our home and go traveling. In the past two years we have been through so much--continuing to foster teens while keeping the house clean and ready to show with only four hours notice. One thing that made me so happy was that our kids were supportive of our plan to retire and sell the house, even if it meant they would have to move on. We were happy to be part of Wraparound Foster Care which meant that there was a plan for the kids and placements were intended to be short-term. None of the kids ever complained about picking up their rooms or about heading with me out of the house so we wouldn’t be around for the showings. It took about a year and a half, but we finally sold our house and either sold, gave away or stored the majority of our belongings in order to move into the motorhome. It’s been about three weeks and I have been doing a lot of reflecting about life as a Resource Parent and about some of the kids who touched my heart over the last 22 years…
Category: Voice of a Foster Parent
August 21st marks 30 years since the Family Care Network opened its doors to begin serving our community’s children, youth and families impacted by trauma. We’ve been celebrating this milestone all year by walking you through our 30 year journey, spotlighting important people, partnerships and moments which have made the last 30 years not only possible but exceptional.
Ann Ward is certainly someone who has made the last 30 years possible. She and her husband were two of our first foster parents. They’ve been with FCNI from day one, and have served hundreds of children and families in profound ways over the years. Ann has also become an invaluable trainer and foster parent support person, helping others to serve and succeed.
The following was written by Ann in honor of the last 30 years--and reflects her tremendous heart for our mission and our community!
A foster Dad is just about the best thing a foster kid could ever hope to have. Most of the kids in our life have had at least one or more loving women in their lives--teachers, social workers, mothers of friends. But sadly, few kids in care have had a good “Dad” experience.
May is National Foster Care month, When I first became certified as a foster parent, I felt there was a negative stigma associated with foster parents and foster kids. There was regular press coverage about foster kids living in horrific situations with foster parents who loaded their houses up with kids so they could get more money. In some states, Social Workers didn’t visit homes for years because they could only respond to emergencies they knew about. I remember feeling so discouraged when another negative article would come out, because I felt that no one was telling the stories about the thousands of good, loving foster parents.
Every March we celebrate National Social Worker Month. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that March is also National- celery month, caffeine awareness month, frozen food month, noodle month, peanut month and cheerleading safety month?
I had to laugh when I read these other things that are celebrated in March because I’m pretty sure most Social workers celebrate these things every month, well maybe not the celery, but certainly Caffeine Awareness. They are very aware of caffeine and where to get it in towns, cities and airports. In fact, lots of good social work takes place in coffee shops. Social Workers know that the way to break the ice with someone or create trust is over a warm beverage.
It’s hard to believe that Family Care Network is celebrating 30 years of enhancing the “wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our Community.” I became a certified foster parent with Family Care Network 27 years ago when the agency was only three years old. I knew I had found the perfect agency to support me in being a Resource Parent when I learned that the very first training was all about communication and creating effective, genuine relationships.
As I think about the many years I have been a Resource Parent with FCNI, I am lead to express my thanks.
Besides being a Resource Parent for the Family Care Network, I get to participate in some of the trainings the agency holds for newly hired staff members. The first big training that everyone goes through is on Trauma-Informed Care. Every new hire at Family Care participates in this training, whether you are in Facilities, IT, admin, or have been hired as a Rehabilitation Specialist or Social Worker—everyone starts their new job at FCNI learning how trauma affects the brain and how to support one another by staying calm and balanced. We teach what it means to respond to one another from a place of love versus reacting to them from a place of fear.
Over the past 26 years that I have been a part of the Family Care Network’s Circle of Serving as a Resource Parent, I have gotten to know many, many other Resource Parents. Before I learned about the diversity of kids needing foster care I had a picture in my mind of what a foster child looks like and what a foster family looked like. My picture included infants or toddlers needing families composed of young couples with or without their own kids. Back when I started foster parenting in 1990, I was surprised to learn that there were teens in need of homes and that Resource Parents came in all ages, and were both couples or singles. After all these years, I can truly say that there is no standard demographic for a Resource Parent.
Everyone has their 'go-to' comfort foods, and often times these foods aren’t the most nutritious. I’ve learned the healing value of allowing kids to enjoy these foods once in a while even if they make me cringe.
March is the month when many Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by preparing and/or eating the traditional corned beef and cabbage and potatoes. This meal has been a tradition in my family since before I was even born. My Mom’s side of the family is Irish, so there was never any question as to what was for dinner every March 17th.
My family of origin is more like mac and cheese than a filet mignon. Even though we aren’t fancy and sometimes leave something to be desired in terms of taste, there is a warmth and comfort to my family that has made me who I am today. I’ve recently been taking stock of all the gifts I have received from my parents, and I have been blessed. Don’t get me wrong, my parents have plenty of flaws, but they were able to raise passionate, thinking children, who have strong identities and deep wells of love and compassion. I recognize that they did this by parenting to our hearts. It wasn’t that they didn’t care about our actions but rather that they believed that our actions sprang from our hearts; if our actions were off, our hearts were off. They weren’t just trying to get us kids to do the right thing, they wanted our insides to match our outsides.