Fostering a Family with Facebook

Facebook is everywhere and has been since it opened to everyone in 2006. You have an account, your mom probably has an account, and the local coffee shop you frequent has an account. It’s a place where people share opinions, pictures and stories with their friends and family. But for prospective and current foster, adoptive and kinship parents, Facebook is much more.

Fostering a Family with Facebook
Foster, adoptive and kinship parents across the country face a unique set of challenges that most of the general public wouldn’t understand. Whether it’s the complicated licensing process, the myriad of policy issues or the foster care placement procedure, foster parents are confronted with an intricate government system that often varies state by state.

While helpful resources are available, many prospective and current foster parents are turning to each other on Facebook for guidance, understanding and acceptance through their fostering journey. Nationally, foster parents turn to the Facebook pages of organizations like The National Foster Parent Association for information on foster care specific topics such as aging out and multigenerational care. This page, like many other organizational Facebook pages, is a place where previously published information is gathered from across the internet and published in one convenient place. Continue reading

Making the Grade: Foster Youth and College

Without dramatic changes and a structured approach, the college graduation rate for students who have lived in foster care will remain one of the lowest in the country at 3 percent, according to a recently released study from the University of the Pacific.

foster youth and college

The study examined seven foster youth’s experiences over a nearly three semester journey through a California community college. It concluded that there was an extreme lack of guidance for foster youth, a problem given that many youths in care are dependent on structured institutional programs.

“Simply having a dedicated person whom foster youth can go to and ask questions — something many of these young people have never had — could really make a difference to their college success,” said study co-author Melinda Westland.

Foster Youth and College: NJFC and Project MYSELF

While the issue of guidance may be a problem nationally for youth who have lived in foster care, New Jersey does provide places for these youths to go and get answers. The New Jersey Foster Care (NJFC) Scholars Program provides financial and educational assistance for eligible youth while also supplying a supportive coaching relationship through Project MYSELF. Continue reading

The Rising Cost of College for Foster Kids

The ever-escalating cost of college tuition has hit every college eligible student in the country. What was once an affordable opportunity and education has now become an almost extravagant luxury. However, no one has been hit harder than those who already have had to overcome innumerable obstacles: foster youth.

Cost of College for Foster Kids
College tuition has steadily increased across the country every year at a rate way outpacing inflation since 1978. The rising expenses of education have put families in a financial chokehold, causing many students to mortgage their futures by taking on large amounts of debt in the form of student loans.

This trend has especially hurt youth from foster, adoptive and kinship backgrounds. While it’s commonly believed that, because of their past, these youths will be eligible for a nearly full-ride to college, that expectation is wrong, according to Foster and Adoptive Family Services’ Director of Scholarship Programs Millicent Barry.

“No one should expect a free ride,” Barry said. Continue reading

North Carolina Law Looks To Increase Foster Parent Rights

Laws dictating the rights of foster parents vary state to state, with most being more restrictive than not in order to help protect children from harm. However, North Carolina is currently discussing a bill that would greatly enhance foster parent rights, granting them abilities to make more decisions for the children in their care.

Foster Parent Rights
North Carolina is considering a bill that would drastically alter state laws by granting rights to foster parents that currently don’t exist in many states, including New Jersey.

The proposed law, dubbed the Foster Care Family Act, would create a “reasonable and prudent standard” that would allow foster parents the right to give permission to children in care to take part in extracurricular and social activities without notifying North Carolina’s Department of Social Services. Continue reading

Study: Foster Care Health Issues Continue Into Adulthood

A recently released national study shows that former foster youth appear to have a higher risk of chronic health conditions above what is generally attributed to those in economic poverty. With a raised awareness of these foster care health issues, authors of the report hope policymakers will tailor programs to help these at-risk youth avoid chronic medical problems. For foster parents, acting now will likely help reduce future health problems in their foster children.

foster care health issues
Foster care health issues are not a new topic. Coming from higher rates of poverty and experiencing abuse and neglect exacts a toll on the physical and mental well-being of foster children, various studies have shown. However, a new report has revealed that the damage doesn’t stop there.

Those kids who were raised in the foster care system will often carry their health issues with them into adulthood, more so than children who are not in foster care.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated cardiovascular health of three groups of young adults: former foster care adults and non-foster care adults who came from both financially stable and financially unstable backgrounds. Continue reading

Disaster Preparedness Courses for Resource Parents

Flood waters begin to rise into your home, and police lines are busy because first responders are out in the field during the hurricane. What are you and your family supposed to do while all this is happening? Where are you supposed to go? Who are you supposed to turn to? What do you do after it’s passed and pieces of your home and life are in rubble?

Disaster Preparedness Courses for Resource Parents
These are very real questions people ask in the face of disasters, both natural and man-made. That’s why organizations across the country offer Preparedness Courses. In NJ, Foster and Adoptive Family Services created the free Disaster Preparedness home correspondence and online courses for NJ licensed resource families.

The idea for the course started in March 2013.

“This was right after (Hurricane) Sandy,” trainer and course author Megan Ryan said. “There was a realization that there was a need.”

Disaster Preparedness Courses for Resource Parents : The Initial Courses

The first course in the four course series primarily focuses on what to do before an emergency. This includes things such as preparing an emergency kit, drafting a disaster plan and identifying your community’s plan. Continue reading