Our keynote speaker for the Foster Learning, Building Bridges Conference at the Provo Marriott was author, trainer, and former foster parent, Donna Foster, of North Carolina.
I think everyone in attendance at the conference would agree that Donna’s warm and welcoming personality as well as her delightful Southern accent and sense of humor made listening to her a pleasure. Seriously- watching Donna Foster speak and engage with her audience was like watching a stand-up comedian- she was an absolute hoot!
Donna’s address was entitled “Celebrating the Challenge: Keeping the Child’s Connections”. Although the words “celebrating” and “challenge” used together might seem like an oxymoron, Donna was able to offer a balanced perspective of addressing the very real challenges foster families face while offering practical solutions of ways to decrease stress while fostering. For example, Donna shared a handout with foster parents with suggestions for self care, including the acronym QTIP, which stands for “Quit Taking It Personally” in regards to the children in our care or the birth parents we work with.
Donna Foster had the ability to help her audience see things from the perspective of both foster children and birth parents. One way she was able to do this was including a brief overview of the loss and grief process that children and their parents experience. She also discussed some of the common fears foster parents may have.
Donna was very candid in sharing how her thinking about fostering has evolved over the years. When she first began fostering, she felt there were 2 Golden Rules which every foster parent should live by:
Don’t get too attached to the child or we’ll remove’em.(Ha! Every foster parent knows that NOT getting attached to the children in our care is next to impossible.)
Take care of the children but don’t get involved with the birth parents.
For those who have fears or resistance to building a good working relationship with birth parents, Donna Foster shared these words of wisdom:
“Birth parents are more than what happened to them.”
“If you love the child, find a way to love the parents.”
In conjunction with the “Building Bridges” theme of the conference, Donna Foster focused the bulk of her address on ways foster parents can work effectively with birth parents in their unique relationship of “shared parenting.”
Because every situation is different and everybody’s personal preferences will vary, Donna included two handouts with her presentation with suggestions of what foster parents can do to build a relationship with birth parents. If you’ll notice, some of these suggestions apply to face-to-face, ongoing contact while other suggestions are things you can do with limited contact.
Donna clarified some of the goals and responsibilities that foster parents should have when working with birth parents. While it is not a foster parent’s family to “fix” a child’s birth family, we do have the responsibility to give them the chance to parent. “If I love the child I’ll give that family every opportunity to parent.” is the kind of attitude which is most beneficial to a child.
To learn more about Donna Foster and her work, refer here.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the Foster Learning, Building Bridges conference sponsored by Foster Families of Utah and Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services!
This conference will be held on Monday, October 3rd at the Provo Marriott from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Cost for the conference is only $15 per single ticket and $20 per couple which includes breakfast and lunch. Up to 8 hours of in-service training can be earned in the different break-out sessions listed below:
This conference is a great opportunity to mingle with other foster parents, receive instruction from or share concerns with DCFS, and to get to know more about how you can advocate for foster care. Plus, you can get up to 8 hours of training and free breakfast and lunch!
To register CLICK HERE or go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/foster-learning-building-bridges-tickets-27270713438
Foster Families of Utah and the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) are excited to announce a foster parenting conference on October 3, 2016. Mark your calendars and save the date! This is open to all foster/adoptive parents in Utah and will count for in-service training hours.
The title of the conference is Foster Learning: Building Bridges. Foster parents will build bridges with state and local resources, have an opportunity to brainstorm with DCFS administration on how to work together, learn about building bridges with biological families, and more!
Space will be limited so plan now to attend and we will post registration details here soon. Click the file below for the Save The Date flyer.
Sponsored By: The Adoption Exchange and Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services
When: Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Where: Sandy, Utah
To Register and See the Conference Schedule, Click HERE
Scholarships are available on a first come first serve basis. If you have adopted through DCFS contact your post adoption worker. All others contact The Adoption Exchange 801-265-0444 or firstname.lastname@example.org by April 22nd midnight.
AND ANNOUNCING . . .
First Annual Foster Adoption Conference
Sponsored by Foster Families of Utah and Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services
The purpose of this conference will be to establish a better working relationship between Foster Families and DCFS; Training Hours will be Available and the cost will be minimal.