Foster parenting is a 24/7 job with no days off! No wonder foster parents need easy access to support and information on their schedule – not just 9-5. When online support groups started in the early 80s, foster parents discovered a new way to get moral support and advice when they needed it, and the trend continues to grow today.
As you might guess, users say convenience is the best benefit of online support groups for foster parents. With both parents’ and kids’ schedules getting more and more demanding, the ability to get what you need, when you need it, is essential to everyone. More convenient for busy foster parents than traditional support groups with monthly or weekly face-to-face meetings, online support groups offer many other benefits as well.
Surprising Benefits of Foster Parent Online Support Groups
The old adage “think before you speak” comes to mind here. A 2000 study by Walther and Boyd revealed that users of online support groups valued the chance to carefully consider their answers before responding to others. They also liked that they could ‘take back’ what they said by editing or deleting their posts.
Opponents of online support groups argue that not seeing the people you’re talking to face-to-face makes communication more difficult, but participants in the Walther and Boyd study felt differently. In fact, “social distance” was cited as one of the most appealing aspects of online support networks; users simply felt more comfortable both giving and getting advice knowing that they were anonymous.
However, not every user wants to contribute to the conversation. Studies show that most are looking for information, not interaction. SupportGroups.com reveals that 97% of online support group users are what is known as lurkers: people who read others’ posts but do not post themselves.
For those who do seek human give and take, foster parent online support groups are still a good option. There are many users who are happy to offer empathy and emotional support to other foster parents at all times of the day and night. They can be a great source of strength and encouragement for those in need.
Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) recently started an online support group for licensed resource parents in New Jersey. Topics include: fostering teens, interracial fostering and adopting, LGBTQIA foster parents/children and kinship. More private than Facebook, FAFS’ online support group lets foster, adoptive and kinship parents speak candidly about their experiences. It also provides them with vital information to help them care for the children in their homes. Learn More