The main reason that many people jump into foster care is that they love kids and want to make a difference in their lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, we encourage it! But remember to love and support the adults in the foster care world as well. The caseworkers, biological parents, therapists, judges, attorneys and even government workers who work with these kids have struggles too, and that doesn’t seem to be discussed much.
Like you, they juggle these difficult situations daily on top of their regular lives, and at times become frustrated, tired and feel as though they want to give up. They need a shoulder to lean on, just as foster parents need community, reassurance, and appreciation.
Caseworkers, in particular, work as the middle man between anxious foster parents, troubled children, and broken biological families missing their kids. Because they do work with so many different kids, they constantly have people calling them wanting something. In this line of work, crises happen continuously, and unexpectedly things come up all the time. Meaning said caseworker is constantly rearranging their schedule to try to fit everything in, or apologizing to someone because they are unable to reschedule.
As a foster parent, you work one and one with your caseworker- we encourage you to remain respectful, understanding and patient with them. Remember, you’re both working towards the ultimate goal of doing what’s best for the child in your care. Here are a few tips to help build a relationship with your coworker, and make their job a little easier along the way.
First, don’t overwhelm them with constant communication and unnecessary questions. If you have a question you really need an answer to, by all means, ask. Try not to call your caseworker multiple times a day with small questions, as this ends up taking up a lot of their time. Ask your caseworker if texts or emails are easier for them, that way they can respond when they have a spare moment.
Get personal. Because foster care is such a vulnerable situation, your caseworker may see sides of you that you never expected to show. While it’s healthy to maintain a working relationship rather than a friendship, treat them as a person rather than just a worker. Ask them how they’re doing, and offer support and encouragement where you can. Thank them for what they do. If something ends up following through or they can’t make a visiting time you requested, be understanding. This goes a long way. You’re both working for the greater good of a child in need.
By maintaining a positive relationship with your caseworker, it improves the foster care journey for both you, the child and the worker. Showing understanding and appreciation can make all the difference in the midst of a hard day.