Credit hours:
2.50

Course Summary

Foster parents play a vital role in maintaining connections between children and their birth parents. These relationships can be confusing and chaotic for youth and require special care and handling. This isn't always easy; helping a young person maintain or strengthen connections to birth parents can be challenging. Learn how you as a foster parent can help support and guide a young person on their journey to creating or maintaining the extremely critical, healthy connection to their birth parents.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Your role as a foster parent in helping a young person maintain connections to their birth parents
  • Positive ways to help a young person stay connected to birth parents
  • Strategies for building healthy and safe relationships with birth parents
  • Why relationships with birth parents are so important for youth in care, even if reunification is not the goal

Step 1

Read Kodi’s story about “Preparing for Reunification” with his birth mother and the importance and impact maintaining the connection to her made.

Step 2

Foster parents play a critical role when it comes to maintaining connections between youth and their family of origin. Review the following resource developed by the state of Wisconsin “Developing And Maintaining Family Connection”, to gain insight into how to promote and strengthen safe and healthy relationships.

Step 3

Learn about some of the struggles foster parents face when trying to help maintain family connections for youth who are in their care; as well as the potential benefits of creating supportive relationships with birth parents by reviewing  Fostering Perspectives article “Making a Difference by Maintaining Connections.”

Step 4

Foster parents can be one of the most important resources to help children and families reunify. Review “Resource Family Tip Sheet for Supporting Reunification” developed by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law for resources and tips on how to support a safe reunification.

Step 5

Learn why it is so important to help a young person remain connected to an incarcerated parent by reviewing Linda’s Story “Visiting Hours - Kids have a Right to see their Parents in Prison

Step 6

Join the Discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

Why is it important to help a young person maintain connections to their family of origin even if reunification is not the permanency plan?

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Course Discussion

Kirsten Lewis's picture

Kirsten Lewis said:

Family connections are unique and provide foster children with a feeling of belonging. Other relationships can be positive for the foster children, but they cannot take the place of birth family relationships. Foster children should be encouraged to build and then maintain their birth family relationships in hopes that the relationships will beneficial to their lives in the long run.
lmacgregor's picture

lmacgregor said:

Every person has a desire to know where he/she comes from. Maintaining a relationship with the birth family is critical as a child grows to adulthood. Knowing your history helps you understand who you are....physically, personality, culture, language, etc. Plus, everyone needs as much love in his/her life as possible. I view our current foster child's bio family as an extended part of our family.
tdenapolis's picture

tdenapolis said:

Every person needs to have a well developed sense of self and the birth family is a large part of that. Every family has shortcomings and strengths.Helping a foster child maintain connections with the family while adopting healthy solutions to negative situations benefits the family and especially the child. This is about the child first and foremost, and preconceived notions of the birth family don't help the child. The goal is to work together for the best interest of the child.
Sandy Peters's picture

Sandy Peters said:

i believe the bio family is usually a forever bond no matter what the circumstances that cannot be erased from a child's being
Sandy Peters's picture

Sandy Peters said:

i believe the bio family is usually a forever bond no matter what the circumstances that cannot be erased from a child's being
kgmcarnahan's picture

kgmcarnahan said:

Family matters. They're so important, even if their not "perfect" or a part of living with you.
epowell's picture

epowell said:

I too believe that it is very important that children has a connection with their birth parent. Sometimes it way deeper though. Not all parents want that connection nor do all children. So I also believe that it depends on the situation. As youth I believe once that get to an age of understanding they can make that decision for themselves.
mlaxner's picture

mlaxner said:

Children need to maintain the connections with the birth family. It can be a very scary time for them to be removed from their home. Having regular contact with the birth parent(s) and siblings if applicable can reassure them that the foster family supports reunification. Even if reunification is not the plan, they should have every opportunity to maintain those connections if they want to.
Danielle Paul James's picture

Danielle Paul James said:

Children need to maintain connection with their birth parents because it is best for the child. They do better knowing their birth parents and having some kind of relationship with them, rather than wondering about them and feeling abandoned or feeling like they were never offered a choice to see their parents.
lsemethy's picture

lsemethy said:

Children need to feel that where they came from is not something to be ashamed of or forgotten. That tie is the foundation that keeps them 'ok' in their new family. It identifies who they are.