Opinion

Foster Parents Burned Out

Donna Metcalf
Barre, Vt.

Your article [“Is This Any Way to Treat Foster Parents?” July/August] touched on several areas where there are problems with retaining foster parents. My husband and I were foster parents for seven years. We were nominated as Foster Parents of the Year by our district in 1999 and 2001. Our experience was a very rewarding one.

But we became burnt out from all the transporting. We live 28 miles from the local office and we were transporting every day for visits, therapist or team meetings. Our last placement was so difficult that the district couldn’t find anyone to do respite to give us a break. We also found it difficult to speak with the caseworker when problems arose. Much of the time we felt we were the only ones making the decisions.

We feel that by increasing the stipend you will not be getting people to do this for the right reasons. You will be getting people more interested in money than in children.

I continue to see foster parents burning out at a high rate. We need to have more caseworkers so that they can provide the support that the foster parents need. Caseworkers should also make a habit of taking the phone calls from the foster parents and making weekly phone contact just to check in. One of the suggestions that I have had over the years is a monthly meeting place where foster parents can meet with other foster parents and “vent.” They can talk freely about their placements and their workers and see how others are dealing with the same issues.

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