This is why foster parents need more information about children they care for

April 24, 2018

My name is Leah Curtsinger. I am a lobbyist and a foster mom.

Many of us recognize that parenting may be the single hardest thing we ever do, but it’s also the most rewarding. However, when foster parents don’t get all of their kiddos’ info, it makes a challenging situation harder. Lack of information sets children and foster parents up for failure, and creates the potential for additional trauma if a placement fails.  

When a child comes into foster care, they begin with at least one trauma – the trauma of being removed from the only parents they know – and, unfortunately, most often there are additional traumas they’ve already faced.

I’m supporting HB 18-1348 because this legislation would help present more complete cases to foster parents and sets up families for more success – both through child care assistance and access to case file information. 

The months-long process to become a foster parent is hard, but the two best things that come from our 32 hours in classroom training are:

  1. The classes teach potential foster parents to have their eyes wide open about what kiddos may have been exposed to and what that means in terms of caring for them.
  2. And just as important, those classes teach foster parents how to say yes to the right case based on our own abilities and means. We learn this so that the placement doesn’t become its own trauma and rejection for a child. 

Foster parents know that what we’re signing up for and we want what’s best for our kiddos, but we can’t do that to the best of our abilities without the whole story. What might be treated with timeout for a child who has not experienced trauma, might have to be treated with a hug, therapy or just patience for a child in foster care. Without knowing our kids’ whole story, TLC only goes so far. 

In our own family, we were told our kids were two years old and two months old. Days later, once they’d settled into our home, the paperwork caught up and showed that the boys were in fact 18 months and 6 weeks. We didn’t know something as simple, yet important, as their correct birthdays.

After eight months with the boys, we just recently learned more about what they had been exposed to previously.  This information was in their case file, but it was not shared with us. If we had known early on what we only recently learned, we would have had grounds to get the boys the help they needed six months ago. They lost six pivotal months.

The bill the Colorado Senate will vote on this week will give foster parents the ability to provide the best homes and child care for kiddos that need yours and our support to succeed. Here’s how you can ensure the bill gets unanimous support.

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