• October 2002
  • Vol. 3, No. 8

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FosterParentNet Builds Circle of Support for Foster Parents

FosterParentNet, a project designed by the Professional Association of Treatment Homes and National Foster Parent Association, focuses on expanding the network of support groups and other resources offered to foster parents. The challenges involved in caring for children in out-of-home placements can be multi-level and complex. Burnout and stress often contribute to a foster parent's decision to discontinue care. A strong circle of support can be a determining factor in foster parent retention.

This 3-year project was funded in Fiscal Year 2000 through the Children's Bureau Adoption Opportunities Grant Program, in the priority area of Leadership Development: Parent Support Groups. FosterParentNet provides foster parents with:

  • Mini grants awarded for new and innovative start-up support groups. Sixty grants will reach all 50 States, as well as targeted culturally diverse populations.
  • Training workshops offered across the country for facilitators who will train others on support group recruitment, leadership, and facilitation.
  • A best practices manual and video available for those interested in starting a foster parent support group.

The project also developed and operates the FosterParentNet Education Center at http://www.fosterparentnet.org, where foster parents have access to online classes, registering for the course of their choice and completing it at their individual speed. Current offerings include Foster Parent Support Group Training and Drugs of Abuse--What Every Parent Needs to Know. Glossaries of Web terms and foster parent terminology are also available. FosterParentNet will be adding new information specifically geared to the educational needs of foster parents and social workers involved in foster care. Courses are currently subsidized, so they are offered at no cost.

Through the website, foster parents can also participate in online discussion boards and join an email listserve. Facilitated chat sessions, which serve as virtual support groups, are also conducted periodically.

For more information on FosterParentNet, contact:

Lynn Lewis
FosterParentNet Project Director
2324 University Avenue West, Suite 120
St. Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (800) 557-5238
Email: llewis@fosterparentnet.org

Two other programs funded by the Children's Bureau within this priority area are:

  1. KinNET, a national network of support groups for relatives caring for kin in foster care, developed by Generations United and the Brookdale Foundation Group. (Website: http://www.gu.org/projg&osupport.htm.)
  2. Network of adoptive parent support groups, developed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children. (Website: http://www.nacac.org/pas_supportgroups.htm.)

Information on the Adoption Opportunities program and other Discretionary Grant Programs of the Children's Bureau can be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/discretionary/dis_index.htm.

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