Join us for a free no-strings attached information session to learn all the ins and outs of foster care and how YOU can impact the fostering community! Session generally lasts 1 hour.

Can’t make it during this time? No worries! Contact our office at 502-485-0722 and schedule your own orientation that fits your schedule!

Join us for a free no-strings attached information session to learn all the ins and outs of foster care and how YOU can impact the fostering community! Session generally lasts 1 hour.

Can’t make it during this time? No worries! Contact our office at 502-485-0722 and schedule your own orientation that fits your schedule!

“How do I know I am Ready to be a Foster parent”

This is a question that renders through my mind when I approach the idea of wanting to foster/ adopt. But really how do you know? I have researched and researched on that question and the best answer I got was actually from my own mother and Father, two experienced people who previously fostered.  They broke it down to me so well, that I realized I was actually ready to be a foster parent this whole time.

To be honest there is a lot that goes through your head when you are deciding to join the foster care world. Thousands of questions and unrealistic scenarios play over and over again.  Desperately I came to my parents for the answers. What I got from the conversation was revolutionary to me! And I couldn’t wait to share this knowledge with people who had similar questions like me.  First thing I did was discussed with my family that I am interested in fostering/adopting.  Most people who already have a family with children it’s always best to discuss with one another about it. This will ensure that everyone is comfortable with the new change that may come. Now I’ve learned not everyone will always be supportive of your decision to becoming a foster parent. However, it’s important that your closest supporters understand your decision. When considering to become a foster parent you want to educate yourself through an agency.  A good place to start your information gathering is agency websites, social media pages, open houses, or Schedule a walk through. When agencies do Q&A session or open houses, you want to take full advantage of these type of events. These events will give you the opportunity to potentially see if that is the agency you would like to go through.

Another thing to consider is, understanding the process to becoming a foster parent, and are comfortable with it. When becoming a foster parent it is an intimidating process from fingerprinting, background checks, physicals and home studies. Along with many people will be in an out of your home each month, that’s including counselors, case workers, CASA and many more. This can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. But once you become a foster parent, you will understand that each of these people are here to help support you and the foster child in your care.  Understand that the beginning process to becoming a foster parent is to make sure you can provide that child with a safe home and stability, during their temporary time until which they can return home.

Giving a child a loving, stable home is necessary for a safe return, and is key to helping the child grow and heal. Take note that there will be some moments that are difficult and stressful when understanding the child welfare system. It is often difficult to navigate because things are always changing and may so effect the child. By being that child’s care taker you will be their voice; their advocate, you will be the one who will communicate with Case workers, judges, and bio Parents/ Families. To help ensure that the foster child’s needs are being met, communicating effectively is KEY! Know that every child is different and each situation is unique. the best qualities a foster parent can have is

-Patience

-Understanding

– Effective Communication

-Love and Support

-Perseverance

– Understanding of self-care

These are the Qualities a child needs and are looking for, if you have all of these Qualities then you are definitely ready to become a foster parent.

Dashai Thompson

NBFS Recruiter – Richmond and Walton

I am the “newbie” in my line of work. This is my first official job in the human services field, and I have chosen to go head first into a “difficult” branch of human services – foster care. Do I work directly with foster children? No, I don’t. But I do see them, I interact with them occasionally, I hear and know their stories. Do I work directly with them? No, but do they impact me? Yes. I know their stories. I know the things that these small humans have gone through, and its heart wrenching. I have compassion, empathy, sympathy, sadness, anger, you name it. I have many feelings towards foster care. I have many feelings towards trauma. So I have a big job, my first job, in the field of human services and the branch of foster care. I have to teach other people who have these feelings, not to allow these feelings to overcome their ability to provide a home for a child with trauma, who will most likely be returned to the people who caused the trauma to begin with.
Fun, right?

You probably think I am crazy, and these people wanting to be foster parents are crazy, and that the time I spend teaching individuals how to deal with trauma, and be a therapeutic home, to give these children a better life, is a waste of time. Or that these individuals who become foster parents are wasting their time, because why would you spend so much time and effort, to try and change a person, then send them right back into the arms of the people who messed them up?

We aren’t crazy.

And you cannot change a person, or what happened to them to cause trauma.

But you can show them what it is like to be loved. To be in a stable home. To feel worth. And that is something that they will take with them. They will learn what love feels like, and they will learn what they are worth, and they will realize that they should not accept anything less than the love they deserve. And that, that one thing, is life changing.
I am not teaching people to fix people. I am teaching people to change lives.

 

Ashley Huffman

Recruiter/Trainer – NBFS Elizabethtown

Imagine that a child falls and breaks an arm and is taken to the hospital. The nurse gently assures the child that everything will be fine, because the child is now at the safe, clean hospital, where the child won’t break any more bones. The nurses and doctors don’t take an x-ray or do anything to set or heal the arm, but they are very warm and loving and supportive. When the child expresses discomfort, the doctors and nurses remind the child that the hospital is a safe place and the broken arm happened in the past.

How will the broken arm heal?

When we became foster parents, we thought we had a pretty good handle on this parenting thing. We had four biological children who were turning out pretty great. We knew that our hearts and home were big enough to bring in additional children and share the love and safety of our family. We attended the 33 hours of required training, feeling pretty smug about how much of that “basic” level parent training we already knew. Or did we?

Perhaps our confidence got in the way of us really listening to what the trainers were trying to teach us. Parenting children is a learning process for everyone, but parenting children who have experienced trauma, requires training! It requires so much more than relying on the methods of, “the way we were raised” or “parenting 101” articles from magazines in the pediatrician’s waiting room.

Just like taking a child to a hospital for a broken arm requires skilled medical practitioners, children who have experienced trauma require skilled foster care providers and therapists. It is not enough to simply comfort them and explain that they are safe now. They have suffered the deepest broken hearts and broken trust. These don’t just heal on their own, even if the child is in a safe, warm, and loving place.

How will these broken hearts and trust heal?

Doctors and nurses have to study for years to learn to mend broken bodies; foster parents only have to take training for 15-30 hours. That simply isn’t enough training to learn the skills to heal a broken heart and broken trust. That is why there is so much on-going training required for foster families. It can feel burdensome to have to find babysitters and to block out the time for training classes. It can even feel like a waste of time because you already know everything the trainer is teaching, but do you really?

New research and techniques are always being developed. Many professions require annual on-going training to keep practitioners up to date on emerging innovations and best practices. Foster parents need the same thing. When we began foster parenting, Trauma Informed Care was just being researched. If that training had been available years ago, it could have completely changed the way we parented our children in foster care. Unfortunately, we might have just focused on the imposition of more required training hours and not really listened. However, now that we are ready to open our home to children in care, again, we are eager to learn all that we can to help mend these broken hearts. We have questions, our notebooks, and open minds. Bring on the training!

 

Teresa Pina

Louisville Recruiter/Trainer

Foster Parent

Hey YOU! Yes you. Ever thought about becoming a Foster or Respite parent? Well, let me tell you, it’s no walk in the park, but it will definitely change your life.  Now, I’m not going to pitch you this grand plan to become a foster parent or respite parent like those people who try and get you to buy a time share or like the ones who want you to buy into their company – No, because that’s not what this is about. It’s about something more. Something grander. Something that could potentially make you feel something bigger than yourself.

You remember when you were a kid and you always thought you could be something more? Maybe you pretended you could fly or like you were an astronaut. Or how about that time when you learned to ride a bike or drive a car? What about your first kiss? Combine all of those feelings you had. How do you feel? Do you feel free? Maybe like you could fly? I don’t know about you, but my feeling – that feeling of being infinite is what life is about.

When I was little girl, I always wanted something bigger for myself, something that made me feel alive. Growing up, when I helped someone or volunteered, I always felt a sense of worth, something bigger than anything I could do to help myself feel something for myself. Sometimes, I even felt so free, almost like I was flying. This still reigns true today when I volunteer or help someone out.

With this in mind, I would say that fostering or respite could do this for you. It is just like volunteering. You are doing something for someone else. You are helping society for the greater good. You are doing something so valuable and precious, almost earth-shatteringly, heart-wrenchingly, irrevocably life changing. You can make a difference in the world, even if it is doing something as simple as becoming a respite parent. For more information, please go to https://kentuckyfostercare.com/foster-parenting/

Going out to dinner is something everyone loves. These outings serve many purposes; celebrations, meetings, dates, family time, you name it. So something that a new foster parent may not have thought about is how your new foster child will react to going out to dinner, and how you as a parent will have to react to SO many questions you may face.

Depending on your foster child’s culture, going out to dinner may not have been something they often got to do, so this can be a very exciting experience for them. On the other hand, they may have gone out to dinner a lot, and have preferences or bad experiences tied to these outings. Either way, ask the child’s input on where they would like to go. Make sure this is a positive and happy experience for the child, so that this can be something they come to enjoy doing with your family.

Now for the questions. The people you know that you may run into. The “Who is this little fella/gal?” or the “Oh, this must be your new foster child.” There it is, the F word. We really try not to call a child in care a “foster child” but simply a child. So you can say “yes, this is our child (name.)”To make your new addition feel normal instead of like such a family outcast.

Remember, these are memories that will stay with the child for a very long time, and these moments have impact. Take a deep breath, and smile about the adventure you are embarking on!

 

-Ashley Huffman

Recruiter/Trainer – Elizabethtown office

The day that my daughter came to our home was a crazy one. Why wouldn’t it be? That is the backdrop of my existence. Always this shy of crazy.  So one month before the 25th birthday of my oldest son, my husband and I were hitting the road to drive two hours away to pick up a teenager.  We had spent the week prior trying to make all the pieces fall into place so we could bring her home. It was a lot of work and a lot of people working toward the goal of getting this young lady into my home.

I have been a mom for 26 years. My oldest will be 26 in two weeks. When I had him, I was a senior in high school at the time. Yeah, I probably should have mentioned I was a hot mess as a teenager. Wild. I made my poor mother question her sanity. Everything comes around. Because now I am a mom to three teenagers. So much angst. So much drama. A lot of amazing.

So I guess this part of the story starts with the laughter of a small child and my concept of wanting an attack llama. An attack llama (?!?!)- you say while questioning my tenuous grasp on reality. Yes. I want an attack llama. Ok let’s veer off the road of my foster/adoption story for just a second. Just imagine donning your Sunday best for a stroll through town. A beautiful and majestic llama walking at your side. You run into someone you dislike and with one word, Felix the Attack Llama just hauls off and spits right in the face of your enemy. Brilliantly Diabolical you say! I agree wholeheartedly and so did a sad small boy the week before we picked up my daughter.

I have already stated that I work with foster parents. On occasion, I get to hang out with the kids. The week that the daughter came to us, I was doing both. One day that week, while waiting on foster parents to show up for training, I had the immense joy of hanging out with a giggling 12 (ish) year old boy. I bring up the giggling because the last time I interacted with this small thing of a child,  he was hysterically crying, just having spent his first night in foster care. That crying day, we watched a pig on YouTube eat a cupcake. (if you have not seen Esther the Wonder Pig, do so … it might just shine a little light in your life) and he watched, through his tears. No words were spoken. Just the sounds of a cupcake eating piggy. It was heartbreaking. But he went to an amazing home. And his story will one day have a happy ending.

That week, the week of the daughter, it was truly wonderful to see this small thing smile so brightly after the buckets of tears he must have cried back in the beginning of his foster care story. I wanted to see more of that smile. So my diabolical llama plan was hatched and giggles were abundant. Life was grand for a moment. I think I might have mentioned that I have a flair for the dramatic.

I went from enemy attacking llamas to foster parent training where I discussed the behavior of foster children and why they act as they do. I can break it down in a few sentences. Children need healthy ways to express the sadness or anger they feel about the losses they have experienced. Some of these behaviors are direct responses to the trauma they have experienced.  Children use behavior to show what they are feeling. They also use behaviors to get attention. Sometimes this is the only way they have learned to get attention, to get their way or just generally relate to the rest of the world. Usually, behaviors are learned responses and children need time to learn new ways of behaving. New ways to deal with and heal from their trauma.

Behaviors are the language of the child’s emotions and the symptoms of their needs. Everything that we expect and believe – about ourselves, other people and about the world we live in – is learned through experience. If you experience violence, guess what you will display. It is sickening that kids experience violence. That is why foster parents are so important. To allow children to be children. To weather their hurt and to get through those dark moments where all H-(E Double hockey stick) is breaking loose. Because you get through the storms, there is always light on the other side. That is why foster parenting is necessary and worth it. For that light.

I have spent the better part of over 5 years teaching people how to possibly navigate through these moments with a smidgen of grace, patience, laughter and decorum. Sometimes it works. Other times, you had better get creative because our kids do. Someday I might tell you about our “Cursing Wild West” – but that is a story for another day.

The year prior to our kiddo coming to our home – we had two disruptions. One we could control and the other – not so much. It broke me. I actually closed my home. My husband was ok with this decision as he needed a break too. The loss was too much. My expectations were way off and I needed some time to process the heartbreak.

When we decided to open back up – we were very clear that we wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with teenagers. Especially teenage girls. Yes let’s all share a collective laugh. My daughter does. However when we learned that there was this special kiddo who needed a safe place to land that a bunch of people thought would fit perfectly in our home – well – how could I say no?

So began the craziest 48 hours I have experienced as a foster parent. Social workers were called, therapists were called, EVERYONE was called. There was a process. There was paperwork. There was stuff that had to be done ……yadda yadda yadda.  But, obviously – it happened and here we are over a year later and something awesome has occurred. I mean something REALLY REALLY COOL!!!!

Last week – we went to court for a very good reason. She was legally allowed to change her name to whatever she wanted. Huge decision for a teen. Guess who now shares my last name? Guess which mom cried in court? This one.

One more thing. There are no llamas in my home. We do have quite a few rescue animals though. And we foster doggies too.  Guess which kiddo wants to grow up to work with animals? Maybe one day, she will figure out how to get her mom a fluffy attack llama. A beautiful and majestic one.

 

-Dusty June Siravo

Director of Development and Recruitment NBFS

Foster Parent