Credit hours:

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 children and youth and require special care and handling. Helping a young person maintain or strengthen connections to birth parents can be challenging. Learn how foster parents can help support and guide children and youth on their journeys 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 children and youth maintain connections to their birth parents

  • Positive ways to help children and youth stay connected to birth parents

  • Strategies for building healthy and safe relationships with birth parents

  • Why relationships with birth parents are so important for children and 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 of maintaining his connection to her.

Step 2

Foster parents play a critical role when it comes to maintaining connections between youth and their birth families. Review the following resource developed by the state of Wisconsin “Developing And Maintaining Family Connection” to gain insight into promoting and strengthening safe and healthy relationships.

Step 3

Read the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s factsheet on Partnering with Birth Parents to Promote Reunification.”  This resource was informed by focus groups with birth parents and foster parents, and shares their advice and highlights the many opportunities to help children, youth, and families in need.

**Optional additional resource: Visit the Birth Parent National Network (BPNN) and Birth and Foster Parent Partnership (BFPP), and view the many resources available that convey perspectives from parents with experience in the child welfare system on a variety of topics.

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?

Step 7

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate!

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Course Discussion

Tony53's picture

Tony53 said:

When a child gets the opportunity to maintain contact with the family it lessens the pain of the loss. When the foster parent is going through the teen years of the child, open communication with the child and family of origin can be a great source of support for both the teen and foster parent.
Tony53's picture

Tony53 said:

I believe it's important for children to maintain communication with the family of origin because they are family period. They have suffered loss from the trauma of separation and all that goes with the results of that grief process. Keeping the line of communication with their loved ones only helps the child keep the bond and hope for the future. They will look for a family as soon as they are 18 to fill that hole in their life. I am a foster mom and families have been great support through their children's teen years.
Cdnuss32's picture

Cdnuss32 said:

It is important because their family is their history and they should be able to keep some sort of connection to them. Even if it is just through phone calls and letters.
G.Brown's picture

G.Brown said:

Unless it is hurting the child mentally or physically child should be encouraged to maintain and further develop a relationship with birth parentts
jonathan_harrell's picture

jonathan_harrell said:

Children deserve the right to (where safe and legal) maintain connections to their biological families. Their identity and sense of self are generally founded in these connections, and severing them is inevitably harmful to the child.
Daisymae994's picture

Daisymae994 said:

These children deserve to not lose communication with there parents. It will help in development of the child and growth.
jeffsteele's picture

jeffsteele said:

Bio parents and their children deserve to keep in contact with each other unless it is harmful to the children. Theirs is an important relationship and should be treated as such.
carrieleasteele's picture

carrieleasteele said:

Connections with bio family need to be maintained if at all possible.
guardian741's picture

guardian741 said:

Like others have shared - there's no replacing a bio-parent. Even though they are flawed (like all of us...), the child still holds that person(s) in high regard; there's a deep emotional connection there and standing in the way of that could be emotionally harmful to the child, as well as could damage the relationship between the child and the foster parents. Preventing contact could likely also lead to a negative opinion of the intent of Foster Care.
tymaoaretae's picture

tymaoaretae said:

You can't replace a bio parent, even if they are toxic. Their children still have an unbreakable attachment. Even if it seems like they'd be better off without them, ultimately the trauma from total separation is more damaging than potential negative parental influences. If the parent isn't toxic, and is just struggling, then all of this should really go without saying.