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What Does a Foster Parent Do? Understanding the Role of a Lifetime

Imagine this scenario: A young child is removed from their home and their biological caregivers due to abuse, neglect or another unfortunate circumstance. In their short life, they have perhaps not known safety, security or comfort. And now, they must live in a new home, with a new caretaker, new rules, new everything.

foster care parentFor the more than 400,000 American children in foster placement, this scenario is very real and significant. Children may not understand that moving to a new home is in their best interest. They may be confused, feel unsettled and miss their biological caretakers. What they may not realize is that entering the new home can change their life for the better. That change is made possible by the love, care and kindness of foster parents.

Nurturing a child in need through fostering is one of the most fulfilling roles an adult can take on. From supporting education, to giving children the confidence to discover their passions and potential, to helping children experience love, a foster parent or foster family provides the formative guidance and support that may have been lacking in the lives of these children. While becoming a foster parent is not without challenges, it is also highly rewarding. At Devereux, we understand the commitment foster parents are making, and are equally committed to supporting parents throughout their journey.

Mentor, Role Model and Teacher

To be a foster parent is to lead by example. Licensed foster parents provide much more than shelter, food and other basic necessities. They are guiding lights in the lives of the young people they welcome into their homes.

As a mentor and role model, foster parents are responsible for teaching children how to be compassionate and responsible members of the community. Foster parents are responsible for showing foster children how to love, respect and value themselves so they can realize their worth and have the confidence they need to achieve greatness.

Though foster parents should expect to provide educational support and guidance for their child, a foster parent’s role as a teacher goes far beyond helping children with schoolwork. Foster parents help children learn age-appropriate responsibilities and developmental tasks:

  • For infant foster care parents, this includes helping babies and toddlers develop motor skills and meet critical milestones.
  • For those fostering older children or teens, it means helping them learn how to strike a healthy balance between school, social activities and jobs.
  • For foster parents and families who welcome adults into their homes, it means providing specialized guidance to empower adults to live meaningful lives in their communities – no matter what challenges they face.

“The children in foster care can go on to be doctors or lawyers or whatever they dream of, but they need the opportunity to be able to do those things. Giving them a stable, nurturing living environment and structure allows them to be able to do that. Fostering a child is an opportunity to give a child something they do not have. You are the parental figure that sets them down the path of success and not destruction. Fostering is an opportunity to be the change that makes the world a better place.” – Devereux Foster Parent, Arizona

Available Resources

While foster parenting can seem daunting, there are two critical points to understand:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. This work matters and it changes lives – both of foster children and parents.

Whether you are a first time foster parent or a longtime member of the foster care community, Devereux is committed to supporting you in your journey to provide transformative, compassionate care for children, adolescents and adults in need.

The foster parents in our program are an on-the-ground extension of Devereux’s mission, and we take their commitment to transforming the lives of those in their care seriously. Because of that, we are deeply devoted to providing robust support for the parents who join our program.

Resources for foster parents include:

  • Free training and support groups
  • Frequent consultation with our knowledgeable staff who have expertise working with individuals
    with emotional, behavioral and/or cognitive differences
  • Comprehensive mental health services for the child; medical care is paid by the state
  • Paid respite care and financial assistance to help with food, clothing and personal allowances 

“Devereux has been great. They walked me through, step by step. When you need additional training, they will get it for you. Whatever you need, they will help you through it.” – Devereux Foster Parent, Arizona

Learn more about foster care and the foster parent application process today.