Celebrating families for National Foster Care MonthWritten by Sally Fussell
In celebrating National Foster Care Month, I am grateful for all the families that have opened their minds, hearts, and homes to children who need support.
It has been such a deep privilege walking with children and foster home families as they negotiate connection and healing. I have also seen such psychological pain. Children with little ability to sustain healthy family relationships. Children whose neurobiology has been altered by abuse and neglect to the point that school, peer relationships, connecting, and self-love are significantly impacted. That’s why I’m thankful that SAFE’s Foster & Adopt program is here to create and support placements that last.
SAFE’s Foster & Adopt program provides foster care, adoption services, and kinship care to families in Central Texas. We use a trauma-informed, trust-based curriculum that helps create a healing and therapeutic environment for the children and youth we serve.
A few ways we help families thrive:
- Pre-placement and on-going training
- 24-hour on-call support for families
- Enhanced, reliable access to respite care
- Access to on-site medical and therapeutic staff
- Team support to help meet children’s individual needs
What we see
Over the years, I have witnessed families that give everything to gain skills to provide excellent care for children with multiple stories of rejection and a history of being treated poorly.
I’ve also seen so many foster families reach beyond the behavior to meet a child’s needs for as long as they can. These families show their children what healthy and protective love looks like.
Other foster families have taken the time to co-parent a child with their family of origin, giving the child a sense of stability and hope during a very difficult time. These foster families give the family of origin a sense of partnership and shared goals with the foster parents.
The need to do better
Sadly, we’ve also seen dismal failures where children’s lives were negatively impacted by a broken CPS system and foster parents who could not manage difficult behaviors, sending children to yet another placement.
I have witnessed children with so much courage and resilience, who are removed from their loved ones into a system that has problems and into new homes in which they were not raised.
Foster children must learn a whole new set of house rules, family rules, nuances in family dynamics, and begin in new schools in new neighborhoods. It’s the same thing each time they join someone’s family.
It’s stressful and scary. Their already high vigilance and fear is amplified at each move.
And yet, there are those families and children who connect. From there, healing happens.
This month, I’m happy to celebrate the magic that happens when our community cares and acts to help with a difficult situation.
There, the capacity to love and connect is born, which means a child in the system has a better chance to nurture and protect their future children.
Now, that’s worth advocating, learning, and feeling for. It’s worth practicing the new skills and techniques it takes to treat children in the system ethically and with empathy.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the delightful and skilled foster parents with whom I have had the good fortune to work beside over the last 40 years.
Parenting is a sacred act. I am grateful for you all.