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!
There are many parenting books for women who are expecting that are filled with tips and strategies for integrating a little newborn into the family and lifestyle. We expect to be up in the night and expect the first year to be filled with exciting milestones and exhausting phases. While there may be some sleep deprived moments when we question our ability to endure the parenting journey, we never really seriously consider giving up.
Bringing a child from foster care into a family will have phases, too. If our expectations are reasonable and we and our family have some advance education and preparation, we can make these phases more comfortable and predictable.
Integration is a little like making a pot of rice. (Hint: It must come to a boil and it takes time.)
Phase 1: The early phase (some call it honeymoon phase):
In cooking a pot of rice, this is the time where the water and the rice are two separate things dwelling in the same pot. This phase is where children are figuring out how they can still be individuals without completely combining with you. During this phase, children need some items of their own and maybe even some time of their own. They need basic security needs met and some fun activities to begin building attachment. This is the shortest of the phases, usually only a few weeks.
Phase 2: The Acute Phase: In cooking a pot of rice, this is the time when the water comes to a boil and the rice begins to change. This is a very volatile stage. The pot could boil over, if it is not watched carefully. The rice and water are still separate but are beginning to form a whole new entity.
For children in foster care and foster parents, this can be a time when frustration and contention can become really challenging. Just like the pot that could boil over, this is the time when disruption may be considered by the child and the foster parents.
If foster parents know that this phase is a normal part of the fostering integration, they can take actions to support the child and themselves through this time period. Having reasonable expectations, planning for stress management and reducing time commitments, making easy meals, simplifying routines, are essential strategies. This phase can catch us off guard because we think that we should be integrating much faster. Remember, there are no shortcuts. This phase is as necessary for integration as bringing the pot to a boil is for the rice. This phase can last a few weeks to a few months. Don’t give up or panic, it will calm down to a simmer, if we are patient and take the extra time and use stress reducing strategies to get through it. This may be difficult, if we used up most of our time off during the first phase, then we may not have enough for phase 2, when we need it most.
During this phase, you should use as many bonding activities as possible. You need to create and practice bonding experiences. This will not start off comfortable or easy and there will be resistance. Keep trying. Don’t overdo it with complicated or expensive activities. Bonding happens in the quiet everyday life and love of a family, such as, preparing meals, playing games, walking, storytelling, scrapbooking, joking, exercising and doing chores together. (It is o.k. to help a child clean their room, even after they are “old enough” to do it themselves. You will learn many things as you talk and fold clothes together and they won’t need your help forever.) Most of our energy in this phase is spent trying to keep the pot from boiling over or avoiding the temptation of giving up. Seek support and keep hanging on. The next phase will come.
Phase 3: The integration phase: This phase is when we put the lid on the pot and turn it down to simmer. The rice and the water combine to become something completely new and better than they were separately. This is what happens when we welcome children into our family through foster care. Our family and the child become something completely new and better than we were before.
This phase is when normalcy begins to happen. We begin to have new routines and trust begins to form. This phase takes many months to years to establish. (Even longer when children and families are coping with Reactive Attachment Disorder.) Be patient, just like cooking rice, the process is happening, even if we can’t recognize it from minute to minute.
This is the phase where the extended family and community begin to change, too. It becomes apparent that this child is part of our family and our family is a part of the child. Getting through Phase 3 happens over a lifetime. It becomes harder and harder to remember what life was like before the child joined the family. Our family would not be who we are without the addition of the children who have blessed our home. We are so much better than we ever could have become without them.
Recruiter/Trainer – Louisville Metro Office
“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
– Effective Communication
-Love and Support
– 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.
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.
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.
Recruiter/Trainer – NBFS Elizabethtown
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/
Your children and Sugar
Food for children is a constant battle. Balancing the nutritional aspects of the US diet is not easy when the kids are being bombarded with images of sugar-coated nothings and fast food restaurant logos all over the place. They are rewarded at school with candy. Some areas they are allowed pop! Most schools feed kids doughnuts, pizza and highly processed/refined foods. They also give them juice and other drinks that are also high in sugar. This is all within the food guided prepared by allopathic nutritionists.
Sugar is one of the worst addictive chemicals that we can put into our bodies.
It makes our bodies depend on the sugar. This makes it cutting it down or out really difficult. Sugar is everywhere either added or within the food itself.
Sugar is a simple carb that fuels every cell in your brain. It gives the brain/body a rush because it turns into glucose in your bloodstream. The problem is that this triggers a release of insulin to move that glucose into your blood stream and cells for energy. Then you will experience a drop in blood sugar which leaves you tired more so, then you were before.
Unlike fruit or other good for you stuff, you are not receiving any health benefits like protein or fiber. In order to get the sugar from fruit and veggies, your body has to work to break it down. That means it takes far longer to get that sugar into the system and also enters more slowly and the body benefits from protein and fiber which also make our system work properly.
So, your body begins to crave more and more sweets to recapture that high. Sugar activates the same regions in the brain that are “turned on” when someone uses COCAINE!! As your body adapts to rely on the false sugar high, your addiction gets stronger and stronger. Do not fool yourself with artificial sweeteners either. They are a nasty all unto their own as well for a future discussion.
The US eats over twice the amount of sugar per day then they are supposed to. Women need no more than 6 tsp. per day but most get around 19 tsp. or more. A can of pop has 9 tsps or sugar or more depending upon size. So, one can would tip you off the scale. That does not include all the other sugars that creep into your diet without your knowledge.
Foods like French fries, bagels, breads, and pasta are highly refined starches and send your body far more sugar then a body needs. So, we have to change our relationship with food. By doing so, we also set good examples for our children who will start eating better.
Getting sugar out of the hands of our children can be a task. But it is achievable.
To start, ban refined sugar from sight. So, no more buying cookies or rice crispy treats and the like. If it is not there, they will have to figure out something else to eat.
Buy glass jars, or steal some canning jars from your mother and put those on display in your pantry, fridge or on the counter. Fill them with nuts, some dried fruit (not too much of these), fruit, chopped veggies, honey, and/or maple syrup. Remove sugary drinks like juice, juice mixes, kool aid type powdered drinks and pop.
Instead put in some no added sugar beverages like herbal teas, carbonated waters with a piece of fruit added to it or pureed fruit.
Pack these items too for road trips so you are not tempted to stop on route and settle for gas station foods that are old and highly processed.
Here are some ideas:
Ants on a log.
-take a piece of celery, put natural peanut butter in it and put about 3 raisins only per slice.
You may use any nut butters or if you have a little one with allergies, tahini is wonderful and they will not know they are not eating peanut butter or eating peanut butter cookies that are home made.
-take one soft tortilla, a nut butter, and a banana.
Put the butter on the tortilla and roll the banana within it. If you so desire, there are also healthier options to “Nutella” out there that have far less sugar and you can also put that on to make a peanut butter, chocolate muddy monkey.
-take the fruit of your choice, about 1 3/4 cup once pureed
Water, lemon juice (if desired) spices such as cinnamon and/or nutmeg (optional)
Preheat your oven to 170 deg.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Puree any fruit of your choice removing seeds if it applies to the fruit of choice.
Puree until really fine.
Add spices as desired, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon etc.
Place the pureed fruit evenly on the pan. Spread out really thin and even.
Bake for 4-6 hours turning the pan every hour. This may be done sooner, mine takes 2 hrs. Just check to see if the fruit is dry all over and especially in the middle of the pan. You should be able to touch it.
Once dry. Let cool in pan. Do not remove the fruit from the parchment.
Take the parchment completely out of the pan. Then cut the whole thing into 1-inch strips. Roll them up. Now they have a “fruit roll up” so to speak.
Apple Chips (other fruit too)
Preheat oven to 200 deg.
put racks in center.
Line baking sheets with parchment
Apple chips are great and tangy. They are also super expensive. If you have an apple tree this will help store some for longer periods of time and it will also be a great exchange for those who like a crunch. IE like potato chips.
Hard apple of your choice 2-3 (I make far more!!)
¾ tsp cinnamon
Core apples if you want. I do not. The seeds fall out for the most part.
Cut very thinly with a mandolin or a sharp knife into 1/8 inch rounds.
Arrange apples (or pears) on baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake 1 hour in the upper part of the oven. Then place them in the bottom for the second hour, hour and a half.
At that point, remove 1 chip and let stand for 2-3 mins to see if you like the crispness. If you want crispier, add more time. If not, turn the oven off LEAVING them in the oven while it cools for an additional hour. If you feel you have over cooked them, then by all means remove them outright.
Can be used alone, as a topper for home made yogurt or ice cream. Can last for a few weeks in a sealed glass container.
Home Made Popsicles
Do your kids waste fruit? Do they never finish an apple? Throw it in the freezer for a future treat.
When you have a good amount of fruit that you saved frozen, take it out.
IE: bananas, kiwi, cucumber, oranges, apples, pears, pomegranate, berries and much much more!
Thaw it and puree it with a food processor, blender, ricer or potato masher.
Mix it will a nut milk and if not sweet, add a bit of honey or maple syrup. You want it to be thin enough to spoon into a popsicle holder.
Pour into any type of mold and freeze. Nothing like using what people once wasted on a nice treat for a hot day.
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!
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
Are they okay?
I wonder if they need anything.
Are they scared?
Why aren’t they asking me questions?
These questions, circling the mind, keeping you awake. You are a nervous wreck. These aren’t the only questions, there are so many more you have to ask, you want to ask, but you don’t. You won’t, not yet anyway. Below are a list of tips that can help ease the mind and transition of not only the child entering a new home, but also for the parent(s) involved in the placement.
Give a house tour
Give your new placement a tour of your home. This will help them become familiar with their surroundings and feel invited into this new territory. Show them where their room is, the bathroom they will use, the kitchen and the family room. If it isn’t dark, show them the outside, area’s where the family spends time outdoors, etc.
Lay out fresh bedding, pajamas and a toothbrush
Have these items out and offer to help the child make their bed. This can be a bonding experience. Give options, lay out a few sheets, blankets and a few pajama sets. This will allow the new addition to your home to choose from colors and designs, which can add a sense of comfort and help with individuality. Remember, most children enter a new home with nothing, so providing choices can help make the child feel accepted and hopefully like they are in less of a strange environment.
Put up your pets
Put your pets up until the child has become aware of their new surroundings and met the other members of the household. Once the home is less of a strange environment, offer to introduce your new member to house pets. The pets will be new to your child and your child will be new to your pets. Allowing time for them to meet in a calmer setting can help with the chaos.
Remember – They are nervous too
You are not the only one nervous about this first night, and the next one, and the next. Your new placement will be nervous, for many days. This is a learning experience for everyone involved, and it will take a while for things to settle and feel normal. Don’t panic, or push. Give it time.
NBFS Recruiter/Trainer – Elizabethtown Office