The Importance of Family Foster Care

There are many types of foster care settings. These include group homes, emergency shelters, and residential care facilities. Maybe the most recognized setting is family foster care, where a child lives with a family in their home. While other settings may be appropriate for children for specific reasons, family foster care provides the most normalized setting. Here are valuable reasons why this is an ideal option for children in need.

Builds Resilience

According to a recent Stanford University study, neglected children who are placed in family foster care early in life are more likely to exhibit adaptive functioning. This includes mental health, physical health, peer relationships, and academic performance. In comparison, children who remained in an institutional setting do not exhibit this function. It appears that this foster care serves a protective function when introduced early in life.

Offers Stability

Stability has been linked with multiple positive outcomes for children in the foster care system. The more stable the environment—and the lower the number of placements—the better the outcome. Therefore, family foster care offers a stable and less chaotic setting than institutions or struggling families.

Family foster care child shows viewer a drawing of her foster family.

Cute young girl peeking behind a draw of her family, room interior on the background.

Access to Resources

Children in family foster care have access to many resources that they would otherwise be without. Foster care parents are trained to offer their guidance and support to needy children. The presence of a caring and competent adult has been shown to be important for children in reaching positive developmental outcomes. In addition, children in this foster care receive the physical, educational and emotional help they require.

Learn More About Family Foster Care

At TFI Family Services, we want to help children and families in the foster care system succeed. Our services are designed to provide the optimal foster care environment. Helping a foster child is a gift whose value cannot be measured. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a foster parent, or helping us with our important mission.

Four Foster Care Benefits

Foster care is often the best place for kids and teens with unfortunate home situations and life circumstances. Here are four good foster care benefits and why they are important.

Stability

A child going into foster care may not have known any stability at home. Perhaps their parents were unreliable or caregivers were constantly walking in and out of their lives. In foster care, a child is placed with dependable adults who know the importance of being there for the kids. The child will no longer have to deal with flaky caregivers who can’t be counted on to always be around. The stability of having caregivers around will do wonders for the child’s mental health and long-term outcomes.

Healthy Family

Four Foster Care Benefits

Having a true sense of family is very important for any child’s development. Children coming into foster care may not know what it means to have a healthy family. In foster care, children can experience a healthy family filled with warmth and attention that they never got to experience while they were at home. This feeling of a healthy home can be carried with them always and give them fond memories.

Sibling Relationships

Most likely the child going into foster care will meet other foster care siblings. This will give the child the opportunity to develop bonds with other children and form long-lasting relationships with other kids that can serve as part of his or her new family.

Good Role Models

Lots of children in foster care are coming from homes where there birth parents were not good role models. Going into foster care gives children the opportunity to see other healthy adults and how they live their lives. This gives children people they can look up to and hope to model their life after.

Learn More About Foster Care Benefits

To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.

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We Train Foster Parents

Have you considered becoming a foster parent, but aren’t sure you have what it takes?  Do you want to help children in need, but don’t know what to expect? Are you overwhelmed by the potential legal and emotional issues, and not quite ready to make the commitment?

Don’t worry. We know that becoming a foster parent is a big commitment and a huge change in your family’s life. That’s why we offer training for anyone who thinks they might want to be a foster parent.

Male foster parent and female foster parent and foster child relaxing on sofa at home

A happy, young family of three consisting of father, mother and foster daughter relaxing on sofa at home

Becoming a Foster Parent

All foster parents in our area are required to complete TIPS-MAPP training prior to being licensed. This is a ten week course that explains the realities of life as a foster parent, including how the system works, the legal facets of fostering, feelings and behaviors you may encounter, rights and responsibilities of foster parents, and much more. This training is completely free of charge, and offered many times a year in locations all over the state. You’ll be able to find a session that fits your schedule.

The purpose of TIPS-MAPP training is not only to prepare candidates for their role as foster parents, but also to let you figure out if fostering is the right path for you and your family.  Fostering is a big decision, and requires the support of both parents, as well as any children in the household. If you decide that you aren’t ready or equipped to foster, for any reason, you aren’t under any obligation to do so, even if you complete the full course. There are other ways you can help our kids, such as volunteering or donating.

Learn More About Becoming a Foster Parent

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, you can find more information on our training here or you can call our Recruitment Specialists at 800-279-9914. For more information on any of our programs, feel free to contact us.

The Facts on “Aging Out” of Foster Care

“Aging Out” of the Foster Care System

You may have heard the term “aging out” of the foster care system, but do you know what that really means?

Aging out of the foster care system means that a teenager has turned eighteen while still legally a ward of the state. They reach adulthood alone, without a parent or guardian to guide them. Imagine that you were in this situation. When you had questions, or something went wrong, you had nobody to call for help. This is the sad reality for numerous teenagers who age out of the foster care system every year.

Boy looking at the camera with a serious look on his face as he is "aging out" of the foster care system.

The problem is greater – and much more common – than people think. To allow you a great understanding of a situation, here are a few facts on teens aging out of the foster system:

  • 20,000 teenagers age out of the system every single year.
  • The Children’s Rights Organization tells us that foster children are far less likely to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent compared to their peers.
  • Many children simply stop attending high school after they age out of the system. In many cases, this is simply due to becoming overwhelmed with the vast responsibility of taking care of themselves.
  • Of those foster teenagers who do manage to either graduate or receive their GED, most will never attend college.
  • A frighteningly high number of teens go directly from foster care to living in the streets, says Covenant House.
  • Young women who age out of the foster care system are far more likely to have children of their own by 24.
  • These young adults are much more likely to be arrested, serve jail time, and become addicted to drugs than their peers, states the National Public Radio (NPR).
  • They are also much more likely to rely on welfare like food stamps, cash assistance, and WIC as their only source of income.
  • “Aged-out” teens are TWICE as likely to visit the ER as their peers.

Learn More About Teens “Aging Out” of the System

For information on how you can help the thousands of teenagers currently living in foster care contact us today.

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What is Required to Become a Foster Parent?

Requirements to Become a Foster Parent

Many families are under the impression only certain people are able to foster. This idea has become prevalent through mass media sources like television or movies, but it is very wrong. You don’t need to own your home or even be married to help children currently living in the foster care system. The following are the only requirements currently defined by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Adopt US Kids.

  • Foster parents must be at least 21 years of age and have a driver’s license with a working vehicle in the household.
  • Foster parents may be single. If they are in a relationship (or divorced) the relationship must be a healthy one devoid of serious conflict or domestic disputes.
  • A resource family must be able to manage their current financial needs without reliance upon the foster care reimbursement checks. This can include food stamps, WIC, child support, and other forms of income pertaining to members of your CURRENT household.
  • All members of your household over the age of thirteen must pass criminal background checks. This does include any minor children you may have or those of any family members currently living with you. This ensures there are no previous allegations regarding abuse or neglect of any kind.
  • Foster parents must be in good health, both mentally and physically, and be able to provide personal and/or work references.
  • Resource homes must provide appropriate sleeping arrangements for each foster placement. This does not have to be their own room, but must be their own bed in a room which does not include members of the opposite gender.
  • Foster parents must agree to never smoke in either the resource home or vehicle when children are present.
  • Potential fosters will need to agree to compliance with the Department of Health Service’s rules on discipline. These may be different than those you would choose to use on your biological children but are the ONLY allowances regarding discipline with children in the foster care system.

Happy family in the park evening light. The lights of a sun. Mom, dad and baby happy walk at sunset. The concept of a happy family.Parents hold the baby's hands.

Learn More About Becoming a Foster Parent

For more information on becoming a foster parent contact us today. We would love to give you more information and help you on your path to becoming a state-licensed resource home.

Summer is here! Here’s how to have fun with your foster children!

The sun is shining, school is out, and it’s time to have some summer fun. Get the whole family involved and make plans to spend some quality time together.

This time off from school is a great opportunity for you to connect with your foster child. These summer months are also critical for foster children, many of whom have moved around a lot during the school year. If they have fallen behind in their schoolwork, now is the perfect time to help them catch up.

Consider some fun activities that come with a side of education and learning. Many local museums and art galleries have special summer pricing for kids and families (and some even host free entry days!). Try out a history museum, and then follow it up with an outdoor trip to the park. Active learning!

If your budget allows, you can also consider summer camps for your foster child. These camps are a great way for foster children to socialize, make new friends, and learn new skills. They often come with fun outdoor activities, too, like swimming and hiking.

The warm summer months are a great chance to help your foster child experience brand new things. Take a trip to the beach, check out a baseball game, or go for a fun bike ride. These new experiences will turn into special memories for your foster child, and will help your relationship grow.

Remember that summer adventures don’t always have to be grand. Head to the library to pick out a few books on a rainy day. Hold a weekly movie night and eat some popcorn while watching your favorites. Work together to plant some new flowers in the backyard.

Need even more ideas?

  • Volunteer! Show your foster child the importance of giving back and connecting with their community.
  • Head to a local farm to pick fresh fruit. Bonus points if you cook something with them. Mmm raspberry cobbler!
  • Go for a campout. You can find a local campground, or set up a tent in your backyard. Roast smores, and take time to relax and look-up at the stars.
  • Play miniature golf.
  • Go to a drive-in movie (yes, they still exist!).
  • Go to the pool and lay out in the sun.
  • Go horseback riding.
  • Feeling adventurous? Go zip-lining!
  • Have a picnic. Make the meal together and then head to a fun place to eat it!
  • Learn something new together: try out music lessons (and start your own family band!) or take a cooking class.
  • Join a summer reading club. This is a great way to keep your foster child reading and learning throughout the summer, and usually comes with a little prize when they reach their reading goals.

Remember that whatever you do, you are spending quality time with your foster child, and letting them know they deserve your attention. Have fun!

Becoming a foster parent: how to decide if it’s for you

Foster parenting is a big, but rewarding experience. Helping vulnerable children by providing them with a safe and loving home is a selfless way to give back and support those who need it the most.

If you’ve been considering becoming a foster parent, but still aren’t quite sure, there are ways to evaluate if it’s right for you.

Spend time with children (of varying ages): Volunteer at an after-school program or group home facility. Offer to babysit for current foster families (this is also a great way to help support them and give them some time away!). Work with your local foster agency to see if they need someone to watch the kids during their regular foster care or group meetings.

Take a class (or two!): Sign up for trainings or courses on children and child development. Learn more about parenting and adolescent growth. Many colleges and community centers provide classes like this. You could also check with your local foster agency for their offerings.

Make sure you’re financially prepared: Foster parents receive financial support from the state’s agency, but it is important that you are fiscally responsible and are able to support the current needs of your family, and the new foster child.

Know the rules: All states are different, so it’s important to check out what your state requires of you to become a foster parent. What is the age requirement? How many references will you need? What is the application process like?

Consider your space: Make sure your home is big enough to add another person, and check if your local agency has any size requirements for bedrooms.

Think about transportation: A new person to care for comes with a bevy of new appointments. Do you have reliable transportation to take your foster child to the doctor, to school functions, and to meetings with the foster care agency?

Assess your adaptability: Sometimes a foster placement comes with very little warning. Are you ready and willing to take on a child without much notice?

Be prepared to change someone’s life: Foster parenting fills a gap between what a child needs and what their family is able to currently provide. Children in the foster care system deserve love and care, and to know that someone is looking out for them. Having this in their life is transformational.

When you’re considering the foster parent route, don’t be afraid to ask questions. TFI Family Services is always here to provide you with the help and support you need to make the best choice for you and your family.

Preparing your home for your foster child

So you’ve decided to become a foster parent. Congratulations! You’re about to embark on a wonderful journey! But first: it’s time to get your house ready!

You don’t always get a lot of lead time when a placement needs to be made, so it’s good to be prepared, should the time come. You foster child is likely coming from a place of great transition, so making your home as comfortable and welcoming as possible will go a long way toward making them feel safe and secure.

First, be ready with the supplies. Depending on their situation, foster children don’t always have a lot of belongings. It’s a good idea to have at least a few essentials waiting for them when they arrive. A toothbrush, some toiletries, and a few clothing items (in varying sizes and genders) is a great place to start.

If you want to go the extra mile, put together a basket of goodies for your foster child. Their own cozy blanket, some age-appropriate toys and book, and other fun items are great ways to make them feel at home and cared for.

You can create another special welcome token by putting together a book of photos of the family, and let the foster child know you want to add new photos with them, too. Again, as foster children don’t often come with personal belongings, a memento like this can be very meaningful.

If you’re able to provide the foster child with their own room, get it ready before they arrive. Knowing that they have a comfy place to come home to that is all there own will mean so much to the foster child. You can decorate it yourself, or let them pick out a few things to help make it personalized for them. Let them know they are free to rearrange or organize it however they want.

Keep your fridge stocked with extra goodies and treats, and be ready for that extra belly you have to feed! Once they arrive, a great way to bond and learn more about your foster child is to ask them about their favorite foods. Have a special meal to welcome them to the house, and maybe have a special night of the week where they get to pick what’s on the menu for dinner.

Put together a binder with important information: family contact information, where the adults work, names of family members, house rules, etc. This is a great way for the foster child to learn about the house and your family.

Make sure the rest of the home is warm and inviting, too. Organize and clean the common areas to make sure your foster child knows they are welcome in the whole house. They should be able to feel comfortable hanging out as if it was their own home.

It can take time for foster children to fully settle into a new space and new family. Taking these first preparatory steps, though, will help the child know they are welcome and wanted in the home. This will help the foster child feel safe and at ease in their new surroundings.

How foster care can positively affect the children already in the house

A foster parent can provide countless benefits to the children they foster, but those benefits also extend to the other (biological) children in the house.

While bringing in a new family member certainly creates a period of transition, it also comes with the opportunity to complement and enhance your children’s lives.

Here are some other ways foster care can benefit your children:

  • They will learn the importance of giving back. You are showing your children how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. By seeing this, they will understand how they can support those in need and help others. It will also open their eyes to the needs of their own community.
  • They will learn compassion. By welcoming a new family member into the house, and learning their story, your kids will better understand the needs and trials of others.
  • They will learn how to share. They probably already know this one, but adding a new person to the house can create new opportunities to build on these skills and better learn to “play well with others.”
  • They will learn to model good behavior. If you have a set standard of rules and expectations in your house, your children will be able to act as a guide for the new foster child. This will allow them to be proud of their good behaviors, and encourage the foster child to follow suit.
  • They will learn there is enough love to go around. Love is infinite, and your children will see that they are capable of bonding and loving new people, and that you are able to love others without it detracting from your love of them.
  • They will become adaptable. Changes and additions to the family bring chances to learn how to roll with the punches, and see the positives in each new opportunity.
  • Your family will develop an even stronger bond. You’re all in this process and experience together, and your team will grow stronger because of it.
  • They will learn about saying goodbye. Although goodbyes are hard, this is not necessarily a negative. As fostering is not (always) permanent, when the child leaves the house, your child will have the opportunity to learn how to say goodbye, yet still love. They will be able to learn about grief and coping, lessons that are important for life.

Inevitably, fostering will impact your family. At an up-close-and-personal level, your children will be able to experience and develop their skills for empathy and understanding. They will learn that they are part of the foster process, too, playing a critical part in creating a welcoming and loving environment for the foster child.

Benefits of Being a Foster Parent

It’s true: fostering can provide a life-changing experience for the foster child. Welcomed into warm and loving homes, they are met with a safe and stable environment to grow and even thrive.

But what about the benefits for the foster parents themselves? Opening their hearts and homes means so much for the children involved, but it can also be a transformational time for the caregivers.

  1. Children in the foster care system have often experienced a trauma or hardship. Fostering gives parents the opportunity to provide a safe haven and support system for the children who need it most. You will be able to provide them with a consistent living environment that will give them the chance to work through difficulties and try to overcome obstacles. Helping during this trying and transitional period in their lives can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for the parents involved.
  2. As a foster parent, you are not just providing love and care, but you are meeting a need. You are making a positive contribution to your community, taking care of a child who has been displaced from their home and needs a supportive caregiver.
  3. If you are already married and with kids, fostering a child can create a strong bond through a shared goal and experience. Working together as a family to welcome in a new addition will be extremely rewarding, and gives you the chance for everyone to build new, important relationships. You will also have the chance to create a strong bond with the foster child themselves– a bond that will last long after the child leaves your home.
  4. And whether you have kids or don’t, adding a foster child to your family will enhance your life in new ways. Growing in your capacity to love and care for a child will bring new meaning to your life.
  5. When you foster, you’ll learn a lot. Foster parents are required to take free classes and trainings to ensure they are well-equipped and prepared. These trainings will not help you become a better parent and caregiver, but will also make you more aware of the foster system and its needs, locally and beyond. You’ll also surely learn new skills that are transferable to other areas of your life, including intangibles like patience, compassion, and empathy.
  6. Fostering a child can create a positive ripple effect. Those in your circle and community might be inspired but what you are doing and want to do the same. If they aren’t able to foster a child directly, it might entice them to help out the foster care system in another way.
  7. If you are interested in adopting, the US Department of Health and Human Services has reported that fostering can provide a quicker route to adoption than other means.
  8. Although financial gains or rewards should never be at the top of the list for any foster parent, fostering does offer monetary allowances for your service and to ensure the proper care of the child. Substantial tax credits are also provided for foster parents.