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Foster In Texas Archives • Page 2 of 4 • Upbring

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What You Need to Know About Fostering Siblings

Each day, children who have experienced abuse and neglect enter the foster care system. The need for loving, compassionate and patient foster parents is evident. But, what might not be so obvious is the need for foster parents who provide for a specific population of children in foster care, such as sibling groups. Research has shown that siblings placed in foster homes together often feel more secure and can help each other adjust to their new family and community. We sat down with foster parent Hannah* to discuss the rewards and complexities that come with fostering sibling groups.

 

Hannah has worked for Upbring for almost five years, several of which she spent as a caseworker for Foster In Texas. After much thoughtful consideration and prayer, Hannah and her husband decided to begin their foster journey. Not too long after their training was complete, and licensing was approved, they received a call and chose to accept not one child, but two young sisters into their home.

 

Why is it important to keep siblings together?

There are so many reasons why we should all focus on keeping siblings together. I can’t imagine the trauma of being removed from your home and everyone you know. That alone is a significant event for any child. Beyond that, imagine getting into a car with a stranger and watching your sibling get into a different car. You both drive off, and you have no idea where either of you is headed. The security of knowing where one of your loved ones is has a profound impact when experiencing hard things. My girls have a significant connection. In the beginning, as they were getting to know us, they found comfort in each other. The older sister would watch her little sister fall asleep each night refusing to sleep herself until she knew her sister was safe and sleeping. To this day, after living with us for seven months, if they are ever apart, they constantly ask about each other. They comfort and teach each other daily.

 

Are there any additional requirements to be approved to foster siblings?

Not at all. Just let your agency or caseworker know you are interested in more than one child and they will make sure your license reflects that.

 

What if we don’t have the ability to foster a sibling group? What will happen to the other siblings?

It is my understanding that keeping siblings together will always be a top priority for Child Protective Services and foster care placement agencies. If all options are exhausted and that is not possible, then the children might be placed in separate homes. Again, this only happens after all other options have been exhausted. Even after placing them in separate homes, if a home that will accommodate all siblings is later found, then the children could be moved to that home instead.

 

How can we help siblings stay connected if they are in different foster families?

If a sibling set is separated, it’s not a matter of how you can help but more of a requirement of the state. CPS will likely require sibling visits. Creating positive relationships with the biological family and the other foster families is helpful. Sometimes the use of technology is available depending on the age of the child and circumstances of the case. Facetime, texting and phone calls can be a great aid to maintaining connection.

 

Will fostering siblings mean extra meetings, appointments and family visits?

Typically, the siblings will share family visits with their bio family. Most of the time CPS can make sure that meetings and appointments required in their services apply to all siblings. When it comes to medical appointments or appointments with schools or teachers, each child will have their own scheduled times, although many doctors will make sure you can do the appointments back to back or even all together at the same time!

 

What are the rewards and challenges that come with fostering siblings?

They are each individuals and have different needs. They require different parenting methods or redirections. They each have different motivators, personalities and schedules. It’s a challenge to get to know more than one child and learn the things that make them tick. The transition can be stark. Our family went from a family of two to a family of four overnight. There was a season where we were all figuring it out, learning each other, and setting boundaries, those things were hard; but, they were such a blessing too. The rewards of having our girls together are endless. There’s not much I wouldn’t do to preserve their love for each other and the connection they have. Their relationship helps me to understand who they are. When one can’t articulate an emotion, feeling or memory, the other can help. They are also able to comfort and bring each other joy in a way that I’m not sure anyone else could. They feel safer knowing their sibling is also safe. I earn the trust of one child when they watch me with the other. They make each other feel safer, and together they make me a better parent.

 

Every child is a gift, and you can be a warrior who fights for the dreams of children in your community as a foster family. If foster care is something you’ve been considering, or you’ve experienced firsthand what a difference a supportive, loving home can make in the life of a child in foster care, why not consider saying “yes” to siblings? Your “yes” can help us break the cycle of child abuse. To request more information about how you can begin your foster journey, visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo where you can fill out our Foster Inquiry Form.

 

*While Hannah’s story is true, we used a pseudonym to protect her identity.
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Foster Friday: Welcoming Teens Into Your Home

Whether it’s reading a romantic novel, flipping through the pages of a family scrapbook or watching a breath-taking sunset, we all have something that tugs at our emotions.

Mark*—an amazing foster parent who has welcomed several children into his home throughout the years— gets a little choked up over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “One of the kids I fostered loved that cartoon, so every time I see it, happy memories come to mind,” Mark said.

Mark has adopted three children and opened his home to others as a foster parent. While some families prefer to foster younger children, Mark has a heart for helping teens and tweens. Equal parts mentor and parent to the kids in his care, Mark stresses the importance of going to school, working hard for what they want and raising the bar for their future.

“Many of the kids I have fostered have experienced abuse or have seen the consequences drug addiction and violence can have on a family,” Mark said. “At first, it can be difficult for them to envision anything different. But when kids have someone who believes in them, they open their minds to other possibilities like a job, trade school or college.” Mark said it is at those times when he feels just as excited as the kids do!

Mark knows that the children he fosters will eventually move on to the next phase in their lives. But they always have a place in his heart. When asked to name his greatest wish for the kids he fosters, Mark said, “For them to believe in themselves and work toward their dreams.”

Right now there are hundreds of teens in Texas who need someone like Mark to provide a safe and loving home where they can learn, prepare for the future, and simply enjoy a typical high school experience. To learn more about what it is really like to foster a teenager, please complete the short inquiry form at www.upbring.org/fosterinfo and one of our knowledgeable Foster In Texas team members will be happy to answer your questions.

*Mark’s story is true, but his name and identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of the children in his care.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent yourself, we’d love to hear from you! Visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo to submit our Foster Inquiry Form.

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Foster Friday: Building a Community of Support for Foster Families

Families face challenges. That’s a universal and unavoidable truth. It’s also why a healthy support system is vital to all families, especially those in need of extra love and support — like foster families. In fact, research shows that parents who foster for an extended period have a community standing alongside them.

 

Babysitters are often an essential part of the fostering community. In addition to the usual scheduling, chauffeuring, and shuffling required to raise children, foster parents often have additional responsibilities like extra doctor’s appointments, therapy, home visits, and court hearings. Burnout is a real possibility without babysitters offering to step in to give parents a much-needed break. As one amazing foster mom told us, “The energy to keep doing hard things is dependent on maintaining connections with my spouse and friends and participating in self-care.”

 

Unlike most families, foster families can’t just reach out to the high school student down the street when they need a babysitter for date night. Child care providers for foster families must complete a certified background check. This added step can often make finding appropriate child care difficult for foster families.

 

Becoming a certified child care provider is one of the most beneficial ways you can provide support to foster families as they embark on this rewarding, but exhausting, journey. Did you know that there are four different types of care you can provide for foster families? Each kind is characterized by the length and frequency of the care provided. Requirements can vary between foster placing agencies. The information below is based on the requirements of Upbring Foster In Texas.

 

Babysitting is short-term childcare which infrequently occurs and is under 12 consecutive hours. Babysitting is perfect for a date night, company outing or other adults-only events.

 

Overnight Care is temporary care provided for a child in foster care by someone other than the foster parents with whom the child is placed for more than 12 consecutive hours, but no more than 72 straight hours.

 

Long-term Respite Care providers can be used for longer-term placements and are defined as infrequent but planned round-the-clock caregivers who can be with the child for more than 72 consecutive hours and no more than 14 days with the intention to provide relief to the foster parents.

 

Regular Alternate Care is care provided for the child (such as by other adult household members or a daycare provider) at least four hours a day, three or more times a week and for more than nine consecutive weeks when the foster parent is not available. Regular Alternate Care is ideal for parents who work full time and need daily childcare for the children in their care.

 

Providing childcare for foster families in your community is a generous way to support those who have opened their homes to children in need. And, if you’re considering becoming a foster parent yourself, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to take the step, providing childcare gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the fostering process, the resources available and to see firsthand the difference you could make in a child’s life.

 

If you’d like to begin providing childcare for a foster family you know in your community, the best place to start is to simply ask! If a good fit, the foster parents can provide you with information on how to submit your background check or receive training through their foster agency. If you do not know a foster family and would still like to help or just learn more, please contact [email protected] and one of our knowledgeable Foster In Texas team members will be happy to give you more information.

 

There are also one-day trainings available in which you can receive your certification to babysit for multiple agencies at once. Age requirements for providing childcare for foster families vary by agency and type of care provided. Please check with your local certification program to learn more about specific requirements.

 

Fostering takes a village, and your compassion and generosity makes an enormous impact on the lives of those served through agencies like Upbring. Together, we’re working toward our mission of ending the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent yourself, we’d love to hear from you! Visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo to submit our Foster Inquiry Form.

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5 Common Questions Asked About Foster Care

Becoming a foster parent is truly a life-changing decision. Considering whether to open your home and heart to children who have experienced hurt and trauma will likely leave you with some unanswered questions. At Upbring, we want you to feel comfortable asking whatever comes to mind. We are here to address any uncertainties you may have during your foster care journey.

Sometimes there are so many questions, you might not know where to start. We’ve found that it’s best to begin with the basics.  Here are answers to some common questions asked by people who are just beginning to learn about the foster care system.

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Foster Friday: What do I really need to foster?

Make no mistake about it, becoming a foster parent is a big step and isn’t always a decision one makes quickly. After all, it is no simple task to open your heart and home to a child you’ve never met and has no trace of your DNA.

There are thousands of extraordinary children across Texas who need a safe home with adults who will encourage their dreams, remind them of their importance and give them a chance to simply be a kid. Before you count yourself out of the running, let’s talk about six things you DON’T need to become a foster parent:

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9 Steps to Become a Foster Parent in Texas

Wondering how to become a foster parent in Texas? Foster In Texas (FIT) works with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to find loving families for thousands of children each year. We know that getting started as a new foster parent may seem overwhelming, so we’ve simplified the process into nine steps.

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Hurricane Harvey: The Road to Rebuilding

Tomorrow, as the sun rises on a new day, one can’t help but think back to this time a year ago when windows were boarded up and grocery store shelves were empty as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in South Texas. It’s hard to believe 365 days have passed since the destructive storm terrorized our state – shattering records, leaving 68 people dead and making a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands. Homes and streets were flooded. People spent days lofted on their roofs waiting for rescue teams to alleviate them from increasingly high waters. Food and water supplies diminished too quickly. Several regions of our state were in chaos.

But as always, we as Americans showed our resilience and banded together to help impacted families. With support from generous friends, not only in Texas but across the country, Upbring stood with the community, helping families find food, clothing, medical assistance and safe, clean shelter. We also had the resources to provide our Foster In Texas families with stipends that helped cover essentials like travel costs, temporary housing, clothing and diapers. For those affected by this horrific storm, the generous support and donations that poured in helped ease their minds and allowed them to focus on rebuilding without the fear of where their next meal would come from, if they would have a roof over their heads and if their children would be comforted after days of living in fear.

Together, we stood strong in the face of tragedy and made an immediate difference in the lives of families who needed our help. Still, thousands more are continuously working to rebuild their lives, and Upbring will stand with them. Our Disaster Response Team is preparing to mobilize and take over case management for families in need in South Texas. We ask that you keep our team and the families they will serve in your prayers.

 

ICYMI: We shared six tips to help you prepare for a hurricane. Check them out here.

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Who is Carmen Todd, and Why Does Texas Need More People Like Her?

Carmen Todd knows how it feels to grow up without a stable home and loving family. As a teenager in foster care, she often felt like the “bad” kid nobody wanted. Long ago, Carmen promised herself she would show children in foster care they are loved and celebrated.

Today, she is fulfilling her promise as a foster parent.

“It’s the most humbling and rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I could not be happier,” Carmen said. “I have fostered nine children since 2015, and each child will always be part of my family.”

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