Research tells us that prospective foster parents typically spend several years thinking about fostering before they decide to make the initial call to ask about the next steps to becoming licensed. After completing all of the mandated requirements to become a licensed foster parent, the newly licensed foster parents excitedly and anxiously await their turn to welcome a child or youth into their care. This “hurry up and wait patiently mode” for newly licensed foster parents is an opportune time for Foster Care Coordinators and case workers to reach out and continue to build a relationship with the foster family. It is a vital opportunity to keep providing support, encouragement, and answers to any questions they have leading up to their first placements.

This would be a great opportunity to match an experienced foster parent with a newly licensed foster parent, creating a mutually beneficial resource for your foster families to build relationships with one another. The experienced foster parent would be able to provide the new foster parents with encouragement by sharing what they have learned during their own journey. Your agency’s Foster Parent Champion could become the designated mentor for newly licensed foster parents.

Experienced foster families’ perspectives and knowledge can be valuable in helping new foster parents develop a stronger understanding of their role and what to expect when parenting a child in care. Pairing new foster parents with seasoned foster parents can help build the new family’s capacity to meet the needs of children in care, while also expanding resource families’ support networks.

Keeping the lines of communication open during this waiting process is empowering--helping foster parents feel connected and supported from the start of their journey. If your agency has any foster parent support groups or appreciation events coming up, take that opportunity to invite and encourage the newly licensed foster parents to attend. Keeping newly licensed foster parents engaged and connected from the very beginning is a direct investment in retaining foster parents with your agency. 

This blog post includes advice from a licensed foster parent in another state about what it felt like to await their first call, as well as her advice to other newly licensed foster parents on what they could do as they wait.