Team Member or Babysitter?

So, you’re a foster parent and you think of yourself as a really good one. You provide excellent care to your foster children, but you say, like Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect. I’m treated like a baby-sitter.” Did you think you were going to be a team player? Have you tried to understand why the “baby sitter” mentality may prevail?

Try to see yourself as your caseworker sees you. Do you act like a team player? Are you willing to transport and/or supervise visits? Do you support and work with the department to reach the desired outcome for the children in your care? Do you attend training workshops to learn as much as you can about the issues that affect your foster children so that you can support and nurture those that you care for to the best of your ability. When you increase your knowledge of the issues that affect your foster children this allows you to communicate with your caseworker as a knowledgeable, concerned, supportive advocate.

Does your child’s caseworker present him/herself as an authoritative figure, placed in your life to rule over you? If they say, “Jump,” do you believe you have to say, “How High?” Do you feel you are being “kept out in the cold” and no one responds to you? If either is the case, where’s the team?

As foster parents (team members), we have every right to be treated fairly, with consideration and respect. When we’re not, if we don’t do anything about it, we’re hurting ourselves, the “team” spirit that we want to nurture, the children in our care, and the image that others have of foster parents in general. If we don’t respect ourselves, who will?

If we do the things that generate respect, we’re all more apt to find ourselves on the receiving end. BUT, if our efforts fail, we should all be willing to seek appropriate help and support. We must work to correct any misconceptions and to create a strong team relationship.

Source: Dawn Corrigan, Executive Director, Foster & Adoptive Family Support Services, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of the author

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