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Avoiding Burn-Out?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I just read a study from the Child Welfare Information Gateway that says:

 

Quote:

Median length of service in foster parenting ranged from 8 to 14 months across the three states, suggesting that many children's placements in foster care are longer than the typical foster parent career.

Where I live there is a very high turnover of foster parents. All the time people tell me they were foster parents, but that they are no longer foster parents. Most of them did it for just a year or two.

 

The people who did the study thought foster parents quit because the children were so challenging. But that's unlikely. See:

 

Quote:

A working hypothesis at the outset of this study was that foster parents exit the system after being exhausted by high levels of placements in their homes and the demands of children in their care. This theory was not supported by the data. Higher foster home occupancy and higher levels of care for infants, adolescents, and children with special needs were consistently associated with greater lengths of service.

 

and

 

Quote:
Interactions with the child welfare agency were the most commonly cited factors affecting foster parent retention. In the National Survey of Current and Former Foster Parents, agency-related issues, including unsatisfactory interactions with workers and agency insensitivity, were cited as a reason for quitting by 37 percent of former foster parents and 62 percent of those intending to stop foster parenting.

 

I believe it's far more likely that foster parents quit because they get tired of the system. They get tired of being lied to or emotionally manipulated. They get tired of being taken for granted and being ignored. Or for some, they adopt and then they're done with the system. If they choose to adopt more children, they go another route and do not do foster-adopt again.

 

The ones who hang in there seem to develop some strategies so they don't have to interact with the system as much. They are less engaged in the process. They don't go to as many court hearings or meetings or visitations. Instead they have the case workers transport the children.

 

What do you think? Do you see this trend?

If you're a long-term foster parent, what strategies do you employ for avoiding burn-out? 

 

Here's the link to the study: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/05/foster-parenting/#Summary

post #2 of 9

I'm pretty much done. I've been fostering since Feb 2008 when my son was placed with me. I havent had tons of kids and have been able to adopt three of my four foster placements.

 

I am done done done with my agency...my adoptions should be finalized in the next week or two, and then i am DONE. It will be all i can do to not send them a letter detailing all the ways they suck. I will likely be contacting the state licensing unit and complaining about all the unethical things this agency does. I'm sick of being disrespected, sick of being expected to jump when they say jump but they are free to take months to do something that should take days or a couple of weeks to complete. I'm sick of constantly being looked at with suspicion, of being judged, of being treated like these are "just foster kids" even though they are MY kids whom i'm adopting very very soon.

 

I am still conflicted about whether i will switch agencies. This is my second crappy agency so i'm not holding out hope others will be better, but i have friends fostering through another agency who are pleased, so i dont know. I do know that i dont have it in me to do regular fostering with weekly visits anytime soon...i just cant put my kids through dragging them through that. I may want to adopt again, so i dont know. I just want the intrusion out of our lives for awhile. I'm a very private person and having this feeling that anyone can pop up at anytime and destroy our lives is no fun.

 

The kids are not the problem at all. The kids (for the most part) have been easy. I am not a hateful person but the disgust and hatred i feel for this agency and almost every worker i've had contact with there cannot be overstated. What they did to friends of mine who were adopting (snatched their three preadopt kids back with no notice and no chance to say goodbye, for ridiculous made up reasons) borders on criminal. I just cant stomach it.

 

 

post #3 of 9

Honestly, the burn-out rate is one of the big reasons we haven't pursued it. Seeing how much training and scrutiny families go through to get approved - only to abandon it so quickly and regularly tells me that there's something deeply wrong. It doesn't seem to me like anyone is thinking this is rainbows and unicorns - even the initial discussions I had were pretty somberly realistic. So to go through all that and then STILL have the reality of doing it be worse than you can handle... not for me.

post #4 of 9

I know several that got in it to adopt, adopted and were done. We are probably done whether we get to adopt DFD or not. We also adopted our other DD last year. DH could have been done after that easily and we had the easiest foster/adoption in history probably. I have great workers, great GALs, and haven't run into any issues so far, I just don't have it in me to long term care for a baby/child that I would have to give back. I actually could do it and love DFD but don't want to do that to my kids long term. They will be heartbroken if DFD leaves us. Currently, bio-mom and bio-dad have stated several times that we have to remain in her life but we have no idea long term what will happen.

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by christophersmom View Post

I know several that got in it to adopt, adopted and were done. We are probably done whether we get to adopt DFD or not. We also adopted our other DD last year. DH could have been done after that easily and we had the easiest foster/adoption in history probably. I have great workers, great GALs, and haven't run into any issues so far, I just don't have it in me to long term care for a baby/child that I would have to give back. I actually could do it and love DFD but don't want to do that to my kids long term. They will be heartbroken if DFD leaves us. Currently, bio-mom and bio-dad have stated several times that we have to remain in her life but we have no idea long term what will happen.


yeahthat.gif to the bolded text.  But were you in it to adopt, too?

 

We fostered for almost 3 years when our ad was placed with us as a newborn.  At that point, they place your home "on hold" to placements for 6mo while you bond to your adoptive placement.  About 4mo into it, we were anticipating the return of a ffd and were kind of holding our home open until we figured out what was going on with her.  Three months after THAT, we found out we would be relocating out of state in 6-12 months (and strung that process out because we had an approved ICPC agreement for our ffd in our home state).  We did take a short-term placement at one point when my ad 13mo and my ad had a REALLY hard time sharing mommy.  We decided that it was just no longer the season of our family's life to do fostering anymore.  And when we left the state, we didn't reapply.  I'm concerned about trying to foster somewhere else.  I worked directly through the state back home and I had a good reputation and strong working relationship with CPS there.  We were simultaneously a blessing and a curse for them: we advocated for the kids, but then that often made their lives rough.

 

I do miss it.  My son understood our role as a foster home (he was 3yo when we started).  He took a lot of pride in it, actually.  It was surprising, but heartwarming.  I never had a problem handing the kids back to whomever they were going to, but I also never had to hand a child back to a domestic violence offender.  I'm not sure how I'd feel about that.

 

The kids rarely were the problem--totally agreed.  Some were tough, but they were usually great kids facing great challenges.  Our major issues were definitely with some of the people involved in the system.  A caseworker here... a GAL there.  Not the majority, but enough to really make you nuts sometimes.

 

post #6 of 9

I've heard about the burnout rate and I've heard that it's more because of the 'system' than the kids. I have my fingers crossed that set up in Canada is a bit better. I wouldn't say that it would keep me from fostering, I'm very set on the idea, but it certainly has me keeping my eyes open! I guess it's one of those situations where you just have to what and see, take things one day, one kid at a time. 

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatherAtHome View Post

I've heard about the burnout rate and I've heard that it's more because of the 'system' than the kids. I have my fingers crossed that set up in Canada is a bit better. I wouldn't say that it would keep me from fostering, I'm very set on the idea, but it certainly has me keeping my eyes open! I guess it's one of those situations where you just have to what and see, take things one day, one kid at a time. 



I'd say you've pretty much nailed it!  :)

post #8 of 9

I think that in my county, people usually stop fostering because they end up adopting (whether they intended to or not.) Not because of burnout of any type. We've  got a pretty strong group of social workers, GALs, therapists, etc and people tend to feel pretty supported.I'm hoping to foster again soon but anticipate a wait because I can only take an infant right now. There's a brand new group of MAPP graduates who mostly want little ones.My son is six and daughter is four so they can share a room with each other (and do) but a little one can't share with him. So, any placement will need to room in with me.I have a new licensing worker and it's the first time that I've worked with someone at DSS who is a parent. Should be different, at least. She's also an adoptive parent (international.)  {Sorry for the lack of paragraphs and other formatting issues. I'm not able to do a lot of things on here that I used to be able to do.]


 

 

 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

yeahthat.gif to the bolded text.  But were you in it to adopt, too?


We were in it to adopt and we did but I didn't quite feel done yet.

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