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The Insiders Guide to Foster Care. Real Life Advice for Parents and Kids in the Foster Care System. The Insiders Guide to Foster Care Real Life Advice for Parents and Kids in the Foster Care System. By Alysa Law and the 2008-2009 ILS Class. Table of Contents. Dedication The Goal

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the insiders guide to foster care

The Insiders Guide to Foster Care

Real Life Advice for Parents and Kids in the Foster Care System

the insiders guide to foster care real life advice for parents and kids in the foster care system

The Insiders Guide to Foster CareReal Life Advice for Parents and Kids in the Foster Care System

By Alysa Law and the

2008-2009 ILS Class

table of contents
Table of Contents
  • Dedication
  • The Goal
  • Facts on Foster Care
    • Definition and Placements
    • Reasons
    • Statistics
    • Trends in Foster Care and Adoption
    • Fostering Families
    • What IS and IS NOT needed
    • ILS
  • The Authors
    • Personal Pages
    • Ideal Situations
  • Tips and Advice for KIDS
    • Tips and Advice on Relationships
    • Tips and Advice on Conflicts
    • Tips and Advice on Communication
    • Tips and Advice on Goals and Knowledge
  • Tips and Advice for PARENTS
    • Tips and Advice on Relationships
    • Tips and Advice on Conflicts
    • Tips and Advice on Communication
    • Tips and Advice on Goals and Knowledge
  • Resources and More Help for KIDS
  • Resources and More Help for PARENTS
  • Bibliography
  • I dedicate this handbook to the 2008-2009 ILS class and Deanna Ese. This handbook could not have been done without any of them. All of the students gave their best advice and really put themselves out there to help others. Deanna was so helpful and did so much to get the project going. Thank you all so much, I truly mean that I could not have done it without any of you!
the goal
The Goal
  • The goal for creating this handbook was to help out those entering the foster care system. It is something that can be used for new kids in the system and even new foster parents. This advice comes from real kids in the foster care system today. The kids explain what it most important in getting though everyday situations from relationships to conflicts and communication. Everything that is important to them in the interaction between a foster parent and a foster child is included and emphasized. Our hope is for this to be a useful tool for anyone needing a little help on how to get through tough situations and the foster care system!
definition and placements
Definition and Placements
  • Foster Care: a full-time substitute care of children outside their own home by people other than their biological or adoptive parents or legal guardians (Woodward).
  • Placements: can last for a varied amount of time, from one day, to several months or years.
      • Kinship Placement
      • Non-relative
      • Treatment Foster Care
      • Institution
      • Group Home
  • Children enter into the foster care system for a number of reasons
      • Abuse
      • Neglect
      • Unsafe environment
      • Uncontrollable Kids
      • Behavior Issues
      • Parents
        • Substance abuse
        • Incarceration
        • Mental health problems
  • This can cause other problems for the kids, and a rough transition into the foster care system.
  • There are around 500,000 children in foster care in the US today.
  • There are over 30,000 children in foster care in New York
  • On average, a child who enters into the foster care system will remain in foster care for 32 months
      • Half will return to their biological parents
  • Every year around 18,000 youths “age-out” of the foster care system.
  • About 1/4 of the children entering foster care for the first time are infants (Woodward)
  • 60% of foster care children are under the age of 4 (Woodward)
  • 1/3 of the foster care population consists of teenagers
  • Poor children are more likely to be in foster care than children from middle class families (Woodward)

Trends in Foster Care and Adoption—FY 2002-FY 2007(Based on data submitted by states as of January 16, 2008)Source: AFCARS data, U.S. Children's Bureau, Administration for Children, Youth and Families

fostering families
Fostering Families
  • There are NO typical foster families, all of them are different! A foster parent can be…
      • Married
      • Single
      • A renter
      • A homeowner
      • A male
      • A female
      • A parent
      • Middle Class
      • White
      • Person of Color
      • Etc.
  • There is NO typical foster parents either!
what is and is not needed
What IS and IS NOT Needed…
  • Needed:
      • Love
      • Patients
      • Energy
      • A secure and giving environment
      • Knowledge on taking care of children
      • Everything needed to support a child
  • NOT Needed
      • Parental experience
      • Marriage
      • A high income
individualized living skills
Individualized Living Skills
  • The ILS Program is for foster kids ages 14 to whenever they are legally on their own or when their caseworkers feel it is no longer necessary.
  • This program helps students develop the skills they will need to be on their own
  • Skills and Topics include..
      • Relationships
      • Communication
      • Conflicts
      • Driving
      • Cooking
      • Cleaning
      • Etc.
  • It is required that foster kids attend this program once they turn 14!



Age: 18

Time Spent in Foster Care: 1 Year

Favorite Movie

Favorite Food

-High School Musical 3



- Ice tea

- pop


Favorite Song



-4 Wheeling


-Hanging out with Friends


-Watching Football

-Love Story

by Taylor Swift

- Bring up

by The Jonas Brothers


Angela's Ideals

  • Talking things out if I have trouble
  • Talking them if I need something
  • I would love to take my foster parents to my concerts and plays
  • Driving a car
  • Talking and Communication
  • Trust

Ella Mae Smallwood

Age: 15

Time Spent in Foster Care: 2 Years

Favorite Food

-Soul Food

Favorite Movie



-Dance and Sing

Favorite Music

-Hip Hop and Rap


Ella's Ideals

  • Feeling Comfortable
  • They are understanding
  • Being able to understand them
  • Being able to talk to them
  • Have things in common
  • They should be able to understand teens

Tara Schmidt

Age: 20

Time Spent in Foster Care: 8 Years

Favorite Food





-Taking Photos

Favorite Music


Favorite Movie

-Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Group 2

tara s ideals
Tara’s Ideals
  • You can always trust them
  • count on them
  • I wish I could talk more to them
  • Trust Is important

Time Spent in Foster Care: 3 Years

Aaron Bradley

Age: 15

Favorite TV Show


Favorite Foods

  • Law and Order: SVU
  • Helping Ruth (Previous Foster Mom) Cater
  • Riding my bike
  • Homemade Mac & Cheese
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole
aaron s ideals
Aaron’s Ideals
  • I Get Spoiled
  • There are very nice
  • I get to do a lot with them
  • Do What I Get To Do.
  • Always Included

Age: 14

Time Spent in Foster Care: 1 Month




-Loves to play sports (Football and Baseball)

*Favorite TV Show

-Wild 'n Out

*Favorite Food

-Stake and French Fries

*Favorite Music

-Hip Hop and R & B

Group 1

nick s ideals
Nick’s Ideals
  • Feeling Comfortable
  • Talking to them
  • Go Bowling
  • Hang Out
  • To keep control
  • Watch what they do
most important ideals
Most Important Ideals…
  • Everyone agrees that these are most important…
    • Being treated like a part of the family, not just a foster kid needing a place to stay!
    • Feeling comfortable and being able to trust their foster parents
tips and advice for kids

Tips and Advice for Kids


“What are some tips or advice that you would give other kids about relationships? (Example: How to handle certain situations, how to ask for help, what to look out for in a bad relationship, or what to look for in a good relationship, etc.)”

  • Relationships with Foster Parents
      • Be prepared to know that there will be rules.
      • Become familiar with and respect the rules that are set, they will get you far!
      • Help foster parents out and get to know them, they do not know who you are either!
      • Give RESPECT-Get RESPECT!
      • Be helpful and tell the truth!
  • Relationships with Friends
      • Be yourself!
      • Be honest to yourself and others.
  • Relationships with Caseworkers
      • Your caseworkers are always there to help you, use them if you need help with anything!
tips and advice for kids29

Tips and Advice for Kids


“What are some tips and advice on handling conflicts whether it is with a parent, friend, etc? (Example: What are things you should say or not say, how to react or not react, etc.?)

  • Conflicts with Foster Parents
      • Be calm, cool and collective!
      • Tell the TRUTH!
      • Control your anger, and talk once you have settled down.
      • They may be mad at you, but they do not hate you and will not treat you any differently
      • The best thing to do is to talk about what is bothering you, and be completely honest with your foster parent. They will be open to and cooperative to what you are saying and feeling.
  • Conflicts with Friends
      • Don’t follow in their footsteps, if they are not doing the right things!
      • Stay calm and tell the truth
      • Keep your distance and give them and yourself space, everyone needs it! Don’t be afraid to tell them that either! They will respect your decision sooner or later and if they do not maybe they are not your real friends!
tips and advice for kids31

Tips and Advice for Kids


“What are some tips and advice that you would give kids on how to communicate with their foster parents? (Example: What are things you should talk about, what are some things you would want to talk about, what are some things that you always wish you could share, etc.?)

  • Communicating with Foster Parents
      • Tell them what you feel comfortable telling them, they are there to support you.
      • If you need something ask, don’t go without it!
      • Talk about interests and hobbies.
      • Let them know your likes and dislikes.
      • If you are not sure about something, whether it is about rules, curfews, going out, etc. make sure you always ask. Don’t just assume!
  • Communicating with Friends
      • Share interests and hobbies.
      • Let them know when you do not feel comfortable about something.
  • Communicating with Caseworkers
      • They are there for you, use them. Whenever you need to talk they are there to listen! They can also be used as a good resource to ask questions on how to talk to your foster parents, and can give you some very valuable advice!
tips and advice for kids33

Tips and Advice for Kids

Goals and Knowledge

“What are some key things that have helped you become who you are? What has being in foster care taught you? What is some advice to you would give another kid going into foster care for the first time? Any other goals you have?”

goals knowledge
Goals & Knowledge
  • Be friendly to your foster parents and anyone you form a relationship with!
  • Know that you do matter a lot to many people.
  • Learn from mistakes, experiences, and life lessons.
  • Be calm and understanding.
  • Stay in school and go to college.
  • Make life long friends, but be yourself.
  • Always trust and respect yourself, it will become easier for others if you can do this!
  • It takes some time getting use to, but you will get through it!
tips and advice for parents

Tips and Advice for Parents


“What are some tips and advice you would give a new foster parents on how to talk to or deal with their foster child on relationships? (Example- signs they should look for, how should they approach you, how should they handle your reactions, how to handle certain situations, etc.)

  • Relationships with Foster Kids
      • Give them time to adapt and get use to their situation.
      • Talk to them as if they are your own child.
      • Be understanding and respectful!
      • Keep in mind that they are not with their own family, and that is tough!
      • Take in what you can handle, you should be able to form a good with relationship with everyone. That could be hard with too many kids!
      • Share interests and rules.
      • Be fair for everyone.
      • Give them the love they deserve!
  • Relationships with Caseworkers
      • Caseworkers are their to help you too!
      • Use them to help you get through to the kids, and use them as often as needed!
tips and advice for parents38

Tips and Advice for Parents


“What are some tips and advice on how to handle a conflict with their foster child? (Example- How could they approach them, what sort of tone should they use, how should they handle the situation, etc.?)

  • Conflicts with Foster Kids
      • Use a clam voice!
      • Make rules and enforce them!
      • Discipline them as you would your own kids, and if you do have your own kids discipline them all the same!
      • Don’t be too harsh, but be fair!
      • Give each other space to calm down and think things through!
      • Be honest and express what you are feeling about the situation!
      • Make sure to listen to them, as well as give your side and perspective of the conflict!
      • Follow through with things!
      • Use their caseworker to help you out, they are their for the child and have known them for quite some time! They will help both of you and can even be a facilitator if necessary.
tips and advice for parents40

Tips and Advice for Parents


“What are some tips and advice on how foster parents can communicate with their foster child? (Example- How to approach kids to talk about a sticky situation, how to know what is going on without being too nosey, talk about their lives, etc.?)”

  • Communication with Foster Kids
      • Give them plenty of space!
      • They will talk when they want to, don’t be too pushy or demanding!
      • Ask questions!
      • Share interests and talk about rules and situations.
      • Explain things if needed!
      • Be open and loving, give them time to talk, but also have them listen. It is great to teach each other the importance of listening and communicating in a peaceful and productive manor!
  • Communication with Caseworkers
      • Again, they are there to help you and your child. It is important to communicate with the caseworker what is going on in the house…good and bad!
      • They want success just as much as you and the child, be open to what they have to say!
tips and advice for parents42

Tips and Advice for Parents

Goals & Knowledge

“How can they help you achieve what you want to achieve? What can they do to make sure your goals are met, etc.?”

goals knowledge43
Goals & Knowledge
  • Help them with what they want to achieve
  • Keep in mind that they need as much support as you can give them, they are outside their element and it can be hard to get into the swing of things!
  • Keep them motivated and always encourage them to do their best!
  • Help them set goals for their future, such as college if they are at that age.
  • Always be there and don’t be afraid to ask questions, you will not always know everything!
  • Be yourself and set a good example for the kids to follow, a lot of them have never had that!
resources and more help for kids
Resources and More Helpfor KIDS
  • The Children’s Center
  • Foster Club
  • Kids Data
  • AdoptUSKids
  • Foster Care Central
resources and more help for parents
Resources and More Helpfor PARENTS
  • National Foster Parent
  • AdoptUSKids
  • The Children’s Aid Society
  • Office of Children and Family Services
  • Foster Care and Adoptive Community
  • Foster Parent Net
  • 2008-2009 ILS Class. Personal Interview. 18 Nov 2008.
  • Foster Club. “Information and Statistics.” 14 Dec. 2008


  • The Adoption Exchange. “Resource Center.” Adopt Us Kids. 2008.

Children’s Bureau. 10 Dec. 2008


  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Trends in Foster Care and

Adoption.” Administration for Children and Families. 2008.

Children's Bureau. 13 Dec. 2008



  • Woodward, Janie F. A. “Foster Care.” Children’s Health Encyclopedia.

2008. Answers Corporation. 14 Dec. 2008