The foster community is experiencing a unique set of challenges due to the current crisis. Here are the responses from 3 foster moms in regards to what those challenges are and what support they need. One of the commonalities that many are facing are the challenges of virtual visits which connect the kids in their care to their bio families.
Our life, just like everyone else’s, has been turned upside. We have the same struggles: getting groceries, missing friends, worried about the economy, and the rest. But for me as a foster mom, the biggest challenges have been childcare (because I am still working outside the home) and accommodating visits with bio-parents in the online setting. I work in healthcare. I am equal parts grateful to be working and earning an income as I am terrified of what I may bring home to my family. My family includes my respiratory compromised 11 month old foster twins. I have a wonderful friend who has stepped up to watch the babies while I am at work. I am both eternally grateful to have such a friend and resource and also hate that I am burdening someone with my responsibility.
The challenge of online visits is something I am happy to navigate to help ensure we are doing our part in practicing social distancing. However, I have been stressed over downloading all the different apps used by all of the different parties, creating log-ins for said apps, trying to hear and be heard. Not to mention, trying to figure out optimal device placement for video conferencing that also keeps the twins from knocking it down, ending the chat or just trying to eat it! Add in the fact that they are babies and are not much suited for an online video chat. I try to show parents cute things they are doing or make a little small talk, but that only goes so far. Even that amount of “success” takes expert timing and preparation when it comes to having the babies in a good state for the visit. I know that no one has specifically asked me to make such efforts, but I respect the fact that these parents miss their kids and this is the best that we can do responsibly.
The resources I have in my life are wonderful and are making all the difference in this time of crisis. I have reached out to see what resources are available to us as a foster family. I was told that there are some limited resources for basic needs like food and diapers, nothing else. We are okay, we will leave that resource for someone else who needs it more. We are a foster family, weathering this storm like any other family.
When you sign up to be a foster parent everyone talks about how important your “team” is. The people that come around you in love and support. When Covid-19 hit we lost that team. Not only that but the moments of breaks that you get to take when kiddos leave for visits. Those moments where you get to recharge to help you push through the trauma that comes post visits. On top of that with virtual visits, your privacy is taken away from you and there is added stress about safety. I understand that it is so difficult for bio parents not seeing their children, but the added stress and time that virtual visits take on the foster family during an already stressful time makes you just want to quit. Post visits come with trauma, extra time and love poured into the kiddos. But at the same time you have to also juggle visits with the other foster kiddos in your home and keep your family safe. There is a lot that can be learned from this experience and I’m hopeful that the correct teams will take the time to put structure in place for the kiddos for the future.
We have been doing virtual visits with an 18 month old foster daughter for 5 weeks now. We went from 1- four hour in person visit to 2- two hour virtual visits a week to cut up the time.
Visits with biological parents are so important and I am happy to be able to share some activities and things we do here in our home. I think it’s probably helpful for a parent that struggles with engaging with their child to see a positive role model show them great ideas. With that being said, engaging with an 18 month old while carrying around an iPad for two hours has been an adjustment since I try to keep her in one room because we have two other young kids that I would like to keep private. Parents show little interest in communication during the visit so I feel as though we are just on camera and I have to put on a show for two hours. I would like to see the case aid intervene a little bit more to get them to talk to her, ask questions, show her toys/books so it’s not just me doing all of the work.
Parents were confirming 24 hours ahead of time like normal but I had to request that they confirm one hour ahead of time because they were not answering the call at least once a week. I can’t get two kids quiet and get everything set up to be ready for a two hour call and then they don’t answer. The communication between DCS and the case aid about this one hour confirmation is still a struggle. That’s been the most frustrating part. My DCS worker agreed to an hour confirmation but the case aid doesn’t implement it as well as she should so I still wait around to see if they will answer the call.
My licensing worker has been great! She checks in and asks us if we need anything. My husband goes to work everyday and I am fortunate to stay home with the kids. She has been a great asset. My DCS worker has been helpful but I just feel like I am complaining when I send updates and I am I told I need to be a little bit more flexible. I am sure everyone is feeling stressed in these situations and I think we’re all making the best of a really strange time.