Foster Parents Support Community

What if foster parents would fall in love with being a foster parent during their first foster child placement?

Photo of Marieke Hensel
8 16

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I am a foster mom w/ 2 bio & 1 adopted child. Our first placement was hard, we did not have the support we needed from our social worker and we had no idea how she could help us during all of it. We did not feel understood, we did not know about available resources and I wish at that first placement I had an independent trusted source I could turn to that could help us. We almost gave up, but we didn't and slowly we found people that supported us through our journey as a foster parent.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

http://mariekehensel.com

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Orange

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Orange County
Nationwide, because its online

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Most foster parents give up during or after their first placement. It is too hard, it is not what they expected, and most of all they feel alone in the process and dont know all the resources available to them. Next to that, the social workers have a high case load and are not always able to provide them the support and advise they need to make this first placement a success. I want to help foster parents love foster care during first placement

To provide a trusted independent source & coaching during and in between foster placements in your home, a person/organization that is not with the county nor foster care agency that gives honest advice, support and encouragement to the foster parent, so that their first placement will be a success, and many more will follow in their home. Next to that, to be able to provide the latest education and training online to foster parents.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2016

Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

When a foster parent is getting ready for a placement (or has received a placement), we like to build the relationship. We will have weekly scheduled phone calls, that are both with a guided questionnaire & open to answer any questions that the foster parent has. Foster parent can call foster parent hotline for advice, at any time to receive support. The person answering the call will listen and give support, for questions outside of the capabilities of the phone support, the foster parent will be referred to or called back by an expert (therapist, social worker, doctor etc). There will be a debriefing process after placement to get them ready for the next placement. Sometimes suggestions are made to switch agencies for better matching.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

I am a licensed foster parent since 2010 and have fostered 18 kids so far in our home. I have worked in digital marketing my whole career, and have transformed my professional career this year to support, help and encourage foster parents, so that they won't give up after or during their first placement. We have had foster kids in our home that have endured multiple placements, some had 9 placements before they were 3 years old. For the sake of the children, we need to make sure that that first placement is a success, both for the child as well as the foster parent.

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Annual Budget

  • $1k - $10k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This will be a free service to foster parents during their first placement, but they can pay a membership fee for the services after the first placement has completed. Next to that, we will be offering online training of which some will be paid. In addition to that we have an online shop in which we sell gifts and apparel that showcase inspiring messages and affirmations on its designs.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Sometimes foster parents have someone in their support network, or can contact a social worker who are very helpful and make their first placement a success. But there is no overarching organization that offers this for all foster parents in the nation. Every foster parent should be able to be successful.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Having an abundance of amazing foster families that can be matched super specific to each childs needs.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Changemakers.com

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Photo of David Dooley
Team

I admire your level of caring and tenacity.  Fostering a child is something I wouldn't want to do.  Perhaps I should be ashamed of myself.  The world needs more people like you.

Changemakers acknowledges "that a fundamental part of growing up with wellbeing is meeting both physical and emotional needs. As a result, parents, family members, foster parents, and other caregiving adults of all backgrounds often lack the awareness, training, or resources to provide comprehensive emotional support for the children in their lives."
They go on to say that
"innovative practitioners are changing this norm and enabling caregiving adults to care for kids’ physical safety, academic achievement, and emotional stability."


To me this means they are looking for ideas that are bridgework rather than riverwork.  Read the following for an explanation of both kinds.

While walking along a river, a passerby sees someone drowning. After pulling the person ashore, the rescuer notices another person in the river in need of help. Before long, the river is filled with drowning people, and more rescuers are required to assist the first. Sadly, some people are not saved, and many fall back into the river after they’ve been pulled ashore. At this time, one of the rescuers starts walking upstream.

"Where are you going??!! We need you here!!" the others scream.
The rescuer replies, "I'm going upstream to see why people keep falling into the river."

As it turns out, the bridge across the river has a hole through which people are falling. The upstream rescuer realizes that fixing the hole will prevent people from falling into the river in the first place.


While riverwork is necessary...and I consider what you're doing to be riverwork...riverwork wouldn't be needed if more emphasis is placed on bridgework.

Don't let this discourage you.  You are a saint for taking in foster kids.

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