Foster Care

Top Qualities of a Foster Parent: Who Should Foster?

Wondering who makes a good foster parent? Before you decide if it’s right for you, here are some of the qualities that foster parents need.

In every community, there are children who find themselves in need of a safe and nurturing home due to circumstances that stop them from living with their biological families.

Foster care aims to provide these children with stability, support, and love during a period of uncertainty and transition in their lives. This is where the vital role of a foster parent comes into play. 

Foster parents carry a significant responsibility — not only in meeting the day-to-day needs of these children but also in helping them heal, grow, and flourish, despite the challenges they have faced.

The decision to become a foster parent is profound and life-changing — both for the child in care and the foster parent. It requires a unique set of qualities and characteristics that go beyond simply providing a roof over a child's head.

But what exactly makes a good foster parent? Is it patience, empathy, resilience, or a combination of many traits?

It’s one of the most common questions we see from foster parents!

Our goal is to provide a clearer understanding of what it takes to make a positive impact in the lives of children in care and to celebrate the remarkable individuals who choose to embark on this journey.

What is the Role of a Foster Parent? 

The role of a foster parent is rewarding but also presents challenges to overcome. 

At its core, foster parenting involves providing a temporary home for children who are unable to live with their biological families due to various reasons, including abuse, neglect, or other family crises. 

However, the responsibilities and roles of a foster parent extend far beyond just offering a safe physical environment. They play a critical part in the healing and developmental journey of the children in their care, impacting their lives in significant and lasting ways.

  • Providing stability and safety - One of the primary roles of a foster parent is to provide a stable, safe, and nurturing environment. Many children in care come from situations of instability and trauma, making the safety and predictability offered by foster homes more important than ever for their well-being.
  • Meeting emotional and physical needs - Foster parents are tasked with addressing both the emotional and physical needs of the children in their care. This includes everything from daily care, meals, and healthcare to providing emotional support, understanding, and patience as they navigate their feelings.
  • Supporting education - Every child needs an education! Foster parents are advocates for the educational needs of a child in care. Whether it’s helping with homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, or advocating for special education services, foster parents ensure that children in care receive the education they deserve.
  • Encouraging personal growth and development - Foster parents help children develop life skills, encourage positive behaviors, and support the pursuit of hobbies and interests. This role involves being a mentor and guide as children in care learn about themselves and the world around them.
  • Working with birth families and agencies - Foster care is a collaborative effort — no one can go through the journey alone! Foster parents often work closely with social workers, therapists, and sometimes the children's biological families to support reunification plans or other permanency goals. This requires excellent communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team for a child’s best interest.
  • Impact on children's lives - The impact foster parents have on the lives of the children they care for cannot be overstated. By providing love, stability, and support during a critical period, foster parents help a child in care on their journey of healing from trauma, growing in confidence, and developing a sense of belonging and self-worth. This nurturing relationship can leave a positive imprint on a child's life, influencing their future well-being and success.

Foster parents offer a beacon of hope and a source of unconditional support during a challenging time in a child’s life. 

It’s about more than just caregiving — you’ll be making a profound difference! Foster parents are vital players in the child welfare system, offering the compassion, stability, and love that can transform a child's life.

Qualities of a Good Foster Parent 

The best foster parents bring a combination of empathy, patience, and strength to their role, creating a positive impact on the lives of the children they care for.

Let’s look at some of the best qualities of incredible foster parents!

Empathy and Compassion

At the heart of foster care and beyond the bare necessities, nothing is more important for foster parents than showing empathy and compassion. 

  • Empathizing with a child who has experienced loss, trauma, or neglect helps them through one of the toughest times they may ever experience.
  • Good foster parents also possess a deep sense of compassion, allowing them to connect with and understand the complex feelings of children in care. 
  • This empathy and compassion help in building trust, security, and help the process of healing.

Patience and Flexibility

Children in care often come from backgrounds of instability and can exhibit challenging behaviors as a result. 

  • Patience is needed to navigate these behaviors without judgment, offering unconditional support as children work through their emotions. 
  • Flexibility is equally important — things won’t always go as planned!
  • Foster parents must adapt to the sometimes unpredictable nature of foster care, whether it's changes in case plans or navigating the complexities of the foster care system.

Strong Communication Skills

All foster parents need to be willing to openly communicate.

  • This includes listening to and validating the feelings of a child in care.
  • Communication also includes maintaining open lines of contact with case workers, biological families (when appropriate), and other professionals involved in the child's life. 
  • Clear and compassionate communication can bridge gaps, solve problems, and foster a sense of teamwork and community.

Commitment to Supporting Education

Education can be a pathway to stability and success for children in care.

More than a third of children in care experience multiple placements each year, with their living arrangements changing at least three times per year. This can have a dramatic impact on the education outcomes of a child in foster care. Foster parents help bridge this gap.

  • Great foster parents are committed to supporting their educational journey, advocating for their needs, helping with homework, and encouraging academic interests. 
  • This support can make a crucial difference in a child's academic achievement and overall self-esteem.

Stability and Security

Providing a stable and secure environment is essential for the well-being of children in care. 

  • This goes beyond physical safety to include emotional security, where children feel consistently supported, understood, and valued. 
  • A stable home environment allows children to focus on personal growth and healing — especially after a traumatic early life!

Being a Positive Role Model

Foster parents have a unique opportunity to model positive behavior, resilience, and healthy coping strategies. 

  • Through their actions and attitudes, they can influence children in powerful ways.
  • Foster parents teach children about respect, kindness, and how to navigate life's challenges.

Understanding of Child Development and Trauma

A good foster parent possesses a working knowledge of child development and understands the impact of trauma on a child's behavior and emotional state. 

  • This working knowledge comes from mandatory training sessions that prepare foster parents for their unique role in the life of a child in care.
  • The training hours vary by state and the type of care being provided, but key information is roughly the same.
  • This knowledge is crucial in providing care that is sensitive to the child's developmental stage and trauma history, helping to foster a healing environment.

This isn’t every quality that makes a good foster parent,  but they represent the core attributes that can make a significant difference in the life of a child in care. 

While the role of a foster parent can be demanding, those who possess these qualities find a deep sense of fulfillment in the positive impact they have on the children they care for, contributing to their healing, growth, and future success!

Learn More About the Qualities of a Foster Parent in Our Upcoming Webinar

Would you like to make a difference in the life of a child or teen in care? If so, our upcoming webinar on foster care can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today to get started!

Sign Up For The Webinar

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