I Can’t be a Foster Parent Right Now – How Else Can I Help?

While there are endless benefits and joys that come with foster parenting, it’s understandable that it’s not for everyone at every time. If you’re unable to foster a child right now, but still want to support the cause, there are a variety of ways to get involved by offering your time, talent, and treasure.

If it’s time you want to give, TFI is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help support our mission and the children and families we serve. Volunteers can help throughout the year at one of our many events, serving on a planning committee, or taking part in the event itself. You can also volunteer for TFI’s annual Foster Care Parent Retreat, where the children are supervised while foster parents spend the day in workshops and classes. This is a great chance to interact with foster children, even if just for the day!

Or, offer some respite care for foster parents! Give them a night off (or even a few free hours to run some errands!). This gift of time for self-care and relaxation can mean the world to busy families. The sky is really the limit here, so feel free to think outside the box: mow the family’s lawn; take their car in for a tune-up; offer to help clean their house once a month.

TFI is also always looking for those with special skills and talents to support our mission, our space, and our kids. Those with skills in construction, AC/heating, and electrical are critical in helping with maintenance projects. You can also help out by teaching a class in computers, sewing, or cooking. Are you a doctor or dentist? Donate your services. Cut hair for a living? Give a few free cuts!

Lastly, TFI would be nowhere without the long-standing financial assistance of its dedicated supporters. Donations help fund educational scholarships, independent living programs, foster parent training classes, and crucial upgrades to your systems and facilities.

While foster parents receive a stipend for their service, there isn’t always a influx of extra funds to helps provide additional essentials (or nice-to-have non-essentials). In-kind donations can be the difference between a child being able to play a musical instrument, take part in a sport, or go on a class field-trip. Gift cards to fun places like the zoo, museums, or local restaurants are a great way to help foster parents. You could also consider memberships to local clubs, pools, or rec centers. Or, sponsor a special day, and help build memories for the kids in foster care, by funding a a birthday or holiday celebration. And don’t forget the big back-to-school rush: students and families could always use a hand with supplies, book bags, and clothes.

Don’t know what you want to do, but know you want to help? Just give us a call at 913-661-0923 and we’ll connect you with something great and worthwhile!

5 Myths About Foster Care

If you’re considering foster care, you likely have a long list of questions about the process and what to expect.

With so much information out there to help prepare you, there’s also plenty of misinformation and myths that might confuse you. Don’t let these misconceptions overshadow the many benefits of foster care.

Here are five common foster care myths, and the real truth behind them.

  1. You have to quit your job to have time to be a foster parent.
    Just as it would be for any biological parent, staying at home 24/7 with the foster child is not a requirement, as long as you can make it work. You’ll work with the foster agency to plan out childcare. If the child is in school, you’ll need to arrange and account for before and after-school care. If the child is not yet in school, you can arrange for a babysitter or other childcare.
  2. All foster children are difficult and hard to manage.
    Some foster children come with some emotional and physical issues, but that is to be expected, as they’ve likely been through a lot. With the consistency and loving environment of a foster home, though, foster children can learn better coping mechanisms and ways to overcome their struggles. By fostering these, or any, children, foster parents have the chance to create a positive impact on their lives.
  3. I can’t foster if I’m not already a parent.
    Individuals aren’t required to already be parents before they foster. People who choose to become foster parents must simply demonstrate a commitment to the child, and the willingness to learn how to best care for them. Already having a child is not a prerequisite for loving and caring for a child. Foster parents also have the opportunity to take classes and workshops to be better prepared. TFI even offers an extensive range of programs and trainings to get parents, new or not, ready to foster a child.
  4. I can’t foster if I’m not married.
    There is no marriage rule when it comes to foster parenting. The foster parent must be at least 21-years-old and healthy (and will have to prove this by seeing a doctor before fostering), and must pass a required background check. All walks of life can be considered for foster care, as long as the individual is able to provide a loving and stable home to the child.
  5. I have to make lots of money if I want to be a foster parent.
    Foster parents need to show financial responsibility and stability, but by no means do they need to be wealthy. Child welfare programs will assist with necessary expenses, helping offset the cost of a child. Just as you don’t have to be married or already a parent, people with all kinds of backgrounds can foster. The essential component here is that the child is well-cared for and their needs are met.

Foster Care vs. Adoption: Differences and Similarities

Welcoming a child into your home to provide them with a safe and stable place is both a noble and important undertaking. This can happen in a variety of ways, including both foster care and adoption.

Foster care and adoption allow you to love and support a child, opening your heart and home to someone who needs it the most. While both are serious commitments full of benefits and opportunities to play a pivotal role in the life of a child, there are many differences between the two. A myriad of circumstances makes a child eligible for foster care and adoption, and there are a variety of differences to think about.

First, the way a child enters each process if very different. A child becomes part of the foster care system after it has been deemed they are living in an unsafe or neglectful environment. Placement of a foster child is done through a state or social service agency.

In foster care, the child’s legal guardian still (typically) maintains all parental rights for the child. Although these rights are managed by the state, they remain intact unless the child is placed for adoption. This comes into play when considering educational, medical, and even religious decisions for the child. With adoption, full legal custody and rights are granted to the adoptive parents. Care for the child is entirely the responsibility of the adoptive parent or parents.

Once a child has entered the foster care system, the biological parent does not get to select where, or with whom, the child will go. With adoption, on the other hand, placement typically involves the biological parent in some way.

The length of stay is also a significant difference between foster care and adoption. While there is no set time-limit, and foster care can sometimes lead to adoption, foster care is a temporary placement. This can be weeks, years, or an even more long-term placement. Children stay in foster care until they can be placed back with their biological family or into a permanent adopted home.

Foster parents receive regular stipends from the government for essential expenses of raising the children placed in their home. On the other hand, adoption is an out-of-pocket expense, starting with the adoption fees themselves, to the cost of raising the child.

Both avenues require extensive background checks and additional medical testing, but as a foster parent, you must take caregiver and parent trainings to ensure you are providing the best care for the child. While these trainings are offered by many different organizations, and to a variety of people, they are not a requirement for adoptive parents.

For both scenarios, it is important to consider what is right for the individual’s current situation. The many benefits of foster care and adoption can work better for some than others, and it’s critical to evaluate what will be best for you (which will ultimately work out best for the child). Both come with incredible benefits, for you and the child, and are life-changing ways to make a difference in someone’s life.

5 Valuable Tips for Being the Best Parent You Can Be

Am I a good parent? It’s a question millions of Americans will ask themselves daily this year. There is no handbook for being the perfect parent. There is no agency that releases literature on how to get it just right. Parenting is an ever-evolving, ever-changing role many of us play, working our hardest to get it as good as we possibly can.

Of course, everyone needs some community support with parenting, especially the foster parents of the world taking in children that are not their own while giving them a new start.

Here are 5 valuable tips for being the best parent you can be:

  1. Be Loving, Yet Firm: One of the most damaging things a parent can do to a child is coddle them beyond the point of no return. Although you may not want to, you need to say no – a lot. Your child can’t have what they want, when they want it, at all times. You’ll be doing them a favor for when they reach adulthood, understanding boundaries, how to share, and how to adapt to foreign situations.
  2. Family Rituals: Studies have shown our fondest memories when we reach adulthood are from the family rituals we pursued as kids. You probably remember some quirky thing you did every Christmas. Creating predictability in this sense makes the children feel like part of the family – part of something bigger than themselves.
  3. Acceptance: Don’t clip your child’s wings. Every child is different and unique in their own way, and you must let them be independent regardless of your opinion. “Helicopter parents” can thwart their child’s ability to converse with other human beings or pursue goals because of the smothering. Your child needs to exert their own independence without commentary.
  4. Step Back: As a parent, you’ll have an overwhelming desire to fix everything you can, at all times. However, some of our greatest childhood lessons occurred when our parents didn’t step in to save us. You want your kids to have their own problem-solving skills that will take them throughout their lives.
  5. Be Fun: Every kid needs fun. Especially as a foster parent, these kids possibly came from dark and dreary backgrounds, in need of a setting in which they can just be kids. Play with your children and show them that the world isn’t always so serious.

TFI Family Services
Here at TFI Family Services, we work with you, the foster parent, to ensure you are provided with a recipe for success regarding your foster children. Although we can’t train anyone fully with a “how-to-parent” blueprint, we can offer our support, expertise, and education to you daily. Consider these parenting tips this year when you feel like you’re totally overwhelmed with the responsibility. Remember to sit back, breathe, and focus. No one is perfect at it.

7 Family-Friendly Spring Activities to Enjoy Together This Season

Spring is finally here, which means children are itching to get outside and enjoy the warmer, happier air. As a parent, it can feel overwhelming when the weather starts to warm, with kids wanting to do all sorts of activities outside to celebrate the upcoming summer season. However, there are plenty of safe, low-budget outdoors activities that you can do with your children or monitor efficiently from the kitchen window.

For all the foster parents out there, here are 7 family friendly activities to provide for your kids this year:

  1. Kites: Kites are just as amusing to kids today as they were 100-years ago. They cost close to nothing and can keep children entertained for hours. As Mary Poppins said, “Let’s go fly a kite.”
  2. Scavenger Hunt: It only takes a little planning to set up an outdoor scavenger hunt for your kids. Consider coordinating one and setting up this weekend while they’re still sleeping.
  3. Biking: Although bikes can be expensive, consider the amusement and healthy physical activity that kids get out of biking today. Providing them with a bike will keep them entertained every single day of the week.
  4. Mini Golf: If you want to really kick-start the spring season happily, take the family to the nearest mini golf course. There is perhaps nothing more exciting to a kid than playing mini golf with the family.
  5. Gardening: Although the thought of gardening might not be exciting to kids, planting and tending to one for them to watch and observe is incredibly beneficial for them. Ask them to harvest the crops and help pull up weeds. Their natural fascination will make it a rather enjoyable experience.
  6. Camping: No, you don’t have to pack up the family and travel hours to go officially camping – you can do it right in your backyard. Grab a tent and set it up for the kids. Allow them to camp out in it overnight. Tend to a fire that evening, obviously supervised, under the stars and make it feel like the real camping experience.
  7. Picnics: Another activity you can do right in your backyard is set up a picnic for the family to enjoy. Pack a basket with fun treats and sandwiches, lay out a blanket, and tell your kids it’s time for the spring picnic. They will be undoubtedly excited.

TFI Family Services
Here at TFI Family Services, we provide guidance, support, and resources to foster parents navigating the waters of foster child-rearing. As such, we want you to come together as a family, which is why we’re recommending you take advantage of the upcoming nice weather and use it as a tool to bond and communicate with your children. Whether it’s camping in the backyard or indulging in your own family picnic, those are the memories that your children will never, ever forget.

The Top Benefits Realized by Children in Stable Foster Homes

When a child receives news that they are being welcomed into a safe and loving home with open arms, they are immediately filed with hope that their future will get better. Children in the foster care system have been tossed around, forgotten, and neglected by families, adults, communities, and the system. All they want is to be wanted.

By giving a child the chance to flourish and become the person they were always meant to be, the positive benefits of that occurrence are felt throughout the world. Here are some of the top benefits realized by children in stable foster homes:

  1. Mental Stability: It’s not easy being on your own at the age of 6. Many of us can hardly even imagine. That’s why, when these children are accepted into stable foster homes, their mental stability regulates, providing a healthy base upon which they can grow and develop for years to come. Although fostering can’t completely wipe away the sad memories, it can fill their lives with new ones.
  2. Education: Many abandoned children have never had access to proper education. In order for them to succeed once they reach the age of 18-years-old, they need basic education under their belt. Supportive foster homes provide these kids with a way to attend and complete schooling, helping them to feel almost “normal” again.
  3. Generational Changes: Instead of contributing to the system that put these kids where they are in the first place, by realizing the love and compassion of a foster home, they are now more likely to go out there and break the chain for the future. They understand what stability in the home looks like, and can work more diligently towards achieving that for themselves.
  4. Socialization: We may take socialization for granted, but during our formative childhood years, socialization is incredibly important. It’s when we learn customs, speaking norms, and how to interact with others. Many of these kids have never had proper socialization, and are unable to connect normally with others. Foster homes provide them with a community where they can talk, listen, cry, and laugh with other people who care about them.
  5. Trust: Naturally, children in foster care have a deep-rooted distrust when it comes to the adults of this world. Can you blame them? Distrust towards everyone around you translates into a lonely life, one without employment and comradery. Foster homes demonstrate that not everyone is to be distrusted. There is still good in the world, and you can find it when you least expect it.

TFI Family Services

The next time you stop to think about becoming a foster parent, consider how beneficial the arrangement will be for the children you welcome into your home. To ensure the process is as smooth as possible for you, we work with you every step of the way, ensuring you are equipped physically and emotionally for the foster parent lifestyle.

Consider filling out an application today.

5 Reasons You Should Become a Foster Parent in 2018

It’s hard to ignore the statistics today. There are thousands of American children in need of a safe and supportive home, and although you may consider the role of caretaker now and then, there are not enough foster care homes available to these children today. Some of biggest reasons why we’re afraid to make the foster care commitment is because we don’t know what to expect.

If you continue to push your inner desire and emotional calling to be a foster parent away week after week, we’re going to look at the top reasons why you should become a foster parent in 2018:

  1. The Numbers: On any given day, there are nearly 428,000 children in foster care in the United States. Looking at 2015 specifically, over 670,000 children spent time in the U.S. foster care system. If nothing else, the numbers don’t lie. There are thousands of children waiting to be welcomed into a warm house they can call home.
  2. Generational Shifts: Yes, the numbers may be overwhelming, but you have to consider the impact you are having on future generations. By taking a child in, you are changing the course of their life, showing them that they can reach for their dreams and do so with a loving base. Children in your home will learn what it takes for families to be stable, abuse-free, and safe, something they can transfer onto their children.
  3. A Universal Experience: The skills, emotional depth, and mental development that you will acquire as a foster parent can be applied to everything you do in life thereafter. Your newfound ability to humanize others, understand the story behind every face, and interact with diversity is just a few of the great lessons learned while foster parenting. You will see the bigger picture, and how everything falls into it.
  4. Changing the Norm: Far too many children grow up in a setting that doesn’t resemble a family. Residential facilities, group homes, and other housing options may cover the basic needs, but they don’t provide the critical family and communal emotional support that comes with a home. It’s this kind of interaction that children require to be stable and functioning adults when they mature.
  5. They Need You: It’s plain a simple: a displaced child with no home or family is in dire need of anyone that is willing to step up and care for them. At the end of the day, we’re social creatures, requiring communication, emotional support, and access to people that we feel care about us.

TFI Family Services

Becoming a foster parent is a monumental decision, one that scares many able-bodied, experienced, and loving individuals away from saying yes. Here at TFI Family Services, we work with you to ensure you are totally equipped and supported every single day, experiencing the foster parenting journey with right by your side. Consider filling out an application today.

Why Right Now is the Time for You to Consider Becoming a Foster Parent

Thousands of children are bouncing around the American foster care system today, waiting to be adopted into a family they can call their own. With figures reporting that more than 428,000 children are available for adoption at any given time the United States, the number appears to be increasing since the turn of the century.

For many, the thought of becoming a foster parent has been there for years; however, the magnitude of the decision can deter applying to actually become a foster parent. Deciding to open your home up to a child in need is a life-changing decision, but we’re going to look at why right now is the time for you to seriously consider the new title of foster parent:

  1. You Care: If you’ve reached a point in your life where you want to help children, truly providing them with safety away from the abuse and neglect they have suffered, it’s time to consider the foster title. Foster parenting is a powerful way to lift up the heads of young children and youth, showing them that there is a new future on their horizon.
  2. You’re Mature: We all want to be kind and loving to kids, but what about making the tough calls to be firm when it’s required? If you’ve reached a point in your life when you’re able to distinguish between the appropriate times to be affectionate, and the appropriate times to discipline, you’re ready to be a foster parent.
  3. Experience: Although it’s not a requirement for foster parents to be biological parents to other children, if you fall into that category, then you already have the experience required to welcome another child into your home.
  4. Meaning: For those who haven’t raised their own children or were unable to for whatever reason, becoming a foster parent will provide your life with a depth and meaning it has been missing. Our services here support you and ensure you are covered with all information and resources required to be a stellar foster parent. Everyone has to start somewhere.
  5. Legacy: If you feel the desire to have a positive impact on somebody, changing the community and the world for the better, there’s no easier way to do it than by opening your home up to a child in need. Despite the challenges you’ve already faced in your own life, you can make a child’s life that much better by hugging them in your arms every single night.
  6. Challenge: For some of us, we respond well to challenges. If you want to challenge your preconceived notion of what you thought your life would be, fostering a child in need is a great way to do it.

Foster Care with TFI Family Services

Here at TFI Family Services, we understand the emotional, physical, and mental demands that come with being a foster parent, which is why we work to support you throughout the entire process. If you’re afraid of saying yes to your inner calling of being a foster parent, give us a call to learn more about what we can do for you today.

Why Do Children End Up in the Foster Care System?

Throughout the United States, thousands of children, every single year, end up in the American foster care system. Although you may be aware of the dire need for parents, adults, and caretakers to step up and provide a safe and supportive environment for these displaced children, most people don’t like to think about the reasons why we need a foster care system in the first place.

It’s an unfortunate reality when a child ends up without parents, but thanks to our community, we are able to offer them something better for the future.

Here are the top reasons children end up in foster care:

  1. Neglect: Children can be neglected and mistreated in a variety of ways, leading to an un-safe home environment, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, we’re able to offer a neglect-free environment for these children that contributes to their maturity and wholesome development.
  2. foster care

  3. Abandonment: In the worst circumstances, parents have been known to drop their kids at school, never to return again. They choose to leave their children alone for the rest of their lives. Battling their own hardships, raising children on top of everything can seem too daunting for some people to stomach. That’s where we come in. We show these children that abandonment does not have to be part of their future.
  4. Death: In the event that a single parent passes away, with no guardians or caretakers stepping up to the plate to care for the child, it can be a tough situation that leaves the child totally alone and without care. It’s not their fault that their guardian passed away, which is what we show and explain to them through our supportive services.

TFI Family Services Inc.
Here at TFI, we know how critical foster care and support services are for the thousands of displaced and neglected children in our country today. Foster parents provide these kids with a new start, a way to make loving and stable connections that instill trust and hope back into poor children that have been exposed to life’s hardships far too young.

We ask you to consider opening up your family, your life, and your home to a child in need through our services this year. Together, we can rise above the maltreatment and lack-of-love that these children are used to. We’re here to support you throughout the entire journey.

The Top Misconceptions About Becoming a Foster Parent

When children are unable to grow up in a loving home, with their biological parents, in a safe and guarded community, unfortunate scenarios, situations, and misconceptions start to surface. Foster parenting is still wholly misunderstood by individuals today, leading to false information and myths about the process that can deter and misinform potentially interested parents.

Some things are certain: when children grow up without a safe and loving home, they may not be able to learn at the same rate as their classmates, process emotional difficulties, or maintain a physical health that is synonymous with happiness. However, that in no way should discourage any interested person from opening their home to foster and/or adoption.

Here are the top misconceptions about becoming a foster parent.

Myth #1: “I’m not married, so I can’t be a foster parent.” You can be single and still be a foster parent. You can be a homeowner or a renter as well. You just have to prove financially that you have an income that supports you aside from the money you are reimbursed for foster care.

Myth #2: “I’m too old to be a foster parent.” You can be a foster parent at any age. Many times, empty nesters are incredible foster parents, possessing the patience and knowledge to be a really supportive caretaker.

Myth #3: “Foster kids are too damaged.” Children are more resilient than adults, believe it or not. Your foster child may have endured atrocities, but foster parents can make a difference by providing a structured and nurturing environment. These kids deserve love and support to help them overcome their damaged pasts.

Providing a safe place for a foster child.

Myth #4: “I’ll be doing this with no help.” Wrong. Here at TFI Family Services, our agency works with you 24-7 to provide a constant line of communication, resources, and training that ensures you are never alone and without education. We cover everything from workshops to at-home visits, acting as friends helping you throughout the fostering journey.

Myth #5: “I’m not wealthy enough to be a foster parent.” We provide reimbursements daily for your fostering environment. Additionally, you do not have to prove wealth to be accepted as a foster parent. You need to prove financial stability for yourself. Children don’t need rich homes to be happy – they just need loving parents.

Myth #6: “I’ll get too attached.” Yes, you will get attached. But these children have suffered in a way that is not fair or humane. The least you can do is supply them with a love they have yet to receive in their lifetime. You’ll be attached, but it will be a beautiful attachment that you can carry in your heart forever.

TFI Family Services
Here at TFI Family Services, we provide you with total communal support, ensuring that any questions or concerns are answered quickly and timely. Don’t worry about doing this alone – it takes a village, and we know that.