Today, I want to talk about ongoing trainings/continuing education for foster parents because it is required for foster parents. You can’t keep your foster license if you aren’t continually learning new things about how to care for children in your care.
To back up a step, for those who are new to this process, as part of your license, specifically if you are licensed through Children’s Bureau, your license is therapeutic and you will need 20 hours of training per year to maintain it. To be clear, this is 20 hours EACH if there are two of you in the home who are licensed.
Over half of these hours (at least 12) need to be done through in-person training. Trainings hosted by Children’s Bureau (which is amazing at offering multiple training options throughout the year for you) as well as other trainings you’ll learn to find out about as you go along on your journey. The rest of the needed hours can be done by reading a book or watching a movie with foster care themes and then filling out a form to demonstrate your take-away. If you’re looking for book ideas, you can check out my post from the spring cleverly entitled: Book Recommendations.
What’s nice about smaller trainings is that you have the opportunity to meet other foster parents and make personal connections that eventually might lead into an organic type of support system for you. Additionally, it might help you make connections for a respite care provider should you ever be in need of that. Any home licensed by CB would be great at providing respite for your child; but understandably it’s really nice to know the foster parents in advance and have something of a relationship with them.
The other nice things about a smaller, single-topic training is that you might have the opportunity to “dig in” to that a little bit more than you might otherwise. You might come away feeling better equipped or knowledgeable on a subject or situation you’re facing in your own home.
However, there is something to be said for all you can glean from a conference.
Now I’ll be honest…I do love a good conference. There’s something invigorating about being with a bunch of other people who are passionate about the same things you are and who are there to learn. Granted, I am well-aware that many of them are just there because it’s a requirement of their foster care license, but sometimes you can stumble upon a fellow nerd, such as myself, who enjoys the learning, simply for the learning.
I encourage people to go to conferences with a spouse or significant other who is also licensed…or honestly any other foster parents. Camaraderie is great but comparing notes from the same session is most insightful.
Also, it’s fun to chat with those who attended other sessions and hear what they learned. For instance, I attended a conference in the spring with a couple of friends and one of them went to a session on something called “Compassion Fatigue” (also called Blocked Care). I had no idea what it so I did not think It would be relevant to me. However, after hearing her talk about it after the session, I wished I HAD attended; but fortunately, I was able to take some time and look it up on my own. BTW, since it was something I had not heard of, but have quickly figured out that it’s important for foster parents to know, I’m actually going to share information about it with all of you in an upcoming post.
My point in all this is to continue your journey outside of a silo. You can’t be a foster parent on your own, you need support, and along with that support comes down opportunity to learn…not just about yourself but about the children in your care and how you can best serve them.
So, here’s my soap-box moment on this: even if it wasn’t required, we all should still be learning and growing and striving to give the absolute best for these kids from hard places. They all deserve someone to champion them, and if they don’t get that in their biological families, then they should get it in yours…and the best way to do that is always be learning.