Foster parents, caring families

Joe Lopez is a Sacramento resident who works for Triad Family Services

Do news accounts about abuse in foster care accurately portray the work of foster parents? Is the foster-care system corrupt, and does it do more harm than good? Often the criticism involves money. It sounds so easy. Provide a space in your home for a child, sit back and count the money. If it’s so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?

People who believe that foster parents receive a free ride and unending monetary rewards are simply missing the boat and are unfamiliar with the reality of foster care. Being a foster parent is, in itself, a selfless endeavor.

A single foster child can involve a multitude of individuals who are assigned the task of “helping” the child. Would the average Sacramento family be open to having its home and parenting style critiqued by a county government or agency social worker? Or, perhaps you would rather a psychiatrist, psychologist, school counselor, child advocate, teacher, state licensing analyst or biological relative be involved in the treatment and parenting of a child living in your home. Are you getting the picture? Parenting one’s own child is a full-time job, but parenting someone else’s child can be an even more time-consuming task.

Children struggle with their loyalties between foster parents and their own biological families. A tremendous amount of emotions and pain often accompany children in placement. Who comforts them? Most professional “helpers” have minimal time with these children each week. Foster parents are in the home seven days a week. These children don’t cry for their parents, their relatives and normalcy in your home or mine. They cry in the home of the foster parent. Who will step up to care for these children? A foster parent—that’s who!

Let us celebrate the selfless giving of a foster parent. Understand that the monthly stipend to the family is essential to help meet the needs of the children but pales in comparison to the tremendous undertaking and dedication it takes to be a foster parent. A foster parent will tell you how rewarding it can be to help children, with little regard to the totality of the work involved.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and Triad Family Services invites you to join us in celebrating foster parents for all that they do.