Myth: All foster children are emotionally disturbed and damaged beyond repair. There’s nothing I can do to help them.
Reality: First, it is important to know that many of the children we treat have been through adverse experiences in their lifetime and while the behaviors and their thinking patterns may have resulted in a diagnosis, in no way are they “beyond repair”. We have seen many children learn new coping skills and become resilient young adults as a result of the care that they received in our treatment foster homes. This treatment includes a well trained foster parent or parents, a clinical team and in most cases the child’s biological family. We see our work as team work including the child and his or her family where big changes are not only possible but are a matter of course.
Myth: I can’t be a foster parent because I would get too attached. It would be too hard to see them leave.
Reality: It’s a fact -- we all get attached to the children we work with here at AK Child & Family. Some of the times that attachment is lifelong, where the children we treat stay in touch with us for years to come. But as professionals our treatment foster parents and team members know that the attachments that the children we treat come with are the attachments we are working on mending and/or fostering during the course of treatment. The goal in treatment is always to help the child go home again, be that with his or her mother, father, sisters and brothers or whatever that child arrived with.
Myth: Fostering a child who's been removed from the care of their birth parents is dangerous.
Reality: Not all treatment foster children have been removed from the care of their primary parents. In many cases primary parents have placed their children with us for the help that they need to work through issues that have arisen. The relationship between child and family at times are strained but our goal is to work with both the family and the child to find new ways for them to live together. At times our role is a role of co-parenting where the primary parent may not be able to actively parent their child but still maintains a role outlined by the treatment team. Most children placed in your home will have regular visits with their birth parents. This is an important part of the reunification process and you play an important role by being a part of the child’s Team to decide the location and time of the visits.
As for the concern over dangerousness, violent youth are screened out at intake and you would find if you were to take on the role of treatment foster parent that you will have a team of people invested in making sure that your home is safe. After all, safety is the foundation for treatment to begin. If anyone feels unsafe, treatment doesn’t happen.
Myth: I'm not allowed to adopt children I provide treatment foster care for.
Reality: Our goal is to provide treatment foster homes to children and families in need. This means we are looking for professional families who are willing to work with a team to find ways to build resilience for the children placed in your care. The majority of the children we work with return to their families and are not ever considered for adoption. If a foster parent comes to us with a goal of adoption we let them know that this isn’t the organization for them.
For more information on becoming a treatment foster parent with our agency, visit this link: http://www.akchild.org/join-our-mission/foster-parents.html
AK Child & Family brings hope to troubled young lives through a broad range of mental health services. Our residential psychiatric treatment, community based programs and treatment foster homes offer the structure, care and expertise to help young people facing significant challenges build strong, positive, healthy lives.