Welcome back – we’ve been discussing the fact that when biological and foster parents communicate about the child they’re all invested in, that child ends up going home faster in the long run. Several studies have shown that when children get removed from their parents care and placed in foster homes, one of the factors that helps ensure a faster reunification is good communication between the foster and bio parents.
But those same studies have also highlighted the difficulties in achieving that communication, because despite the fact that both parent groups are invested in the child’s success, the child welfare system tends to pit them against each other. The foster parents are often seen by the birth parents as the usurpers, taking their child away and trying to replace them. While the foster parents often see the birth parents as these terrible people who abuse and neglect their children. That alone makes communication very difficult.
One child welfare agency in New York is trying a new approach
Rising Ground, a foster care agency operating in the New York City area, has recently introduced a new pilot program that focuses on establishing a co-parenting relationship between birth and foster parents. Alan Mucatel, CEO of Rising Ground, says that the agency’s goal is to make co-parenting the standard practice for every family in their foster program. “Incorporating co-parenting in our services will change how Rising Ground has traditionally worked with foster parents, who can now play an even greater role in helping a family become reunified.”
So what will that co-parenting look like? According to the studies done, where foster families and birth families were both interviewed about what would be most helpful coming from the other side, it’ll look something like this:
- An opportunity to get to know each other, so that they can establish a relationship of mutual respect and open communication,
- Opportunities to exchange information, ask questions, and share details about the child as an individual, and how they’re doing,
- Foster parents can make an effort to include the birth parents in meetings (with teachers at schools, doctors and dentists, and sporting events, etc…),
- Share information about the child’s daily activities, likes and dislikes, struggles and challenges, so that everyone is included and informed,
- Finding creative and safe ways to increase contact between birth parents and children (like email, written letters and cards, or a private Facebook page)
- Foster parents can ask birth parents for input on things like hair styling, or outfits for church, or school picture day,
Foster parents who take a mentoring role help everyone involved!
According to the research, when foster parents do more than just care for the children, and also take an active role in helping to mentor the birth parents, the results are markedly better for everyone. The birth parents benefit from the positive support, insights, and advice from the foster families, and the child gets to go home to parents who are more engaged, more stable, and more supported. In the end, the whole birth family is helped by the experience.
All of this aside, while we understand that foster care is necessary for many children, we also know that CPS is often quick to separate children and parents before they have all the facts. (Or they get the facts wrong, or ignore them altogether!). Avoid having your family torn apart by calling The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 if CPS contacts you in any way. You don’t need to lose your kids to become a better parent!