It can be difficult to find the right words, especially when interacting with foster parents, the children they care for, and the many others who may be involved in the foster care journey. Foster care placements can be complex situations, with complicated dynamics and big emotions. How do we know the right thing to say? 

At CASA, we have learned that sometimes it’s not about finding the right thing to say… it’s about taking the time to listen!

Here are some ideas for conversation starters when you are reaching out to foster parents:

  • “Tell me about the children.”
    This open-ended prompt allows families to share whatever information they feel comfortable sharing – avoiding private and/or confidential details. By focusing on the children, it gives them a chance to share their own observations and feelings. “Jack is a bundle of energy!” “Jill is feeling so sad, I am trying to just be present with her.”
  • “What has this journey been like?”
    There are so many negative misconceptions about foster care. Avoid playing into those assumptions by asking non-leading questions. 
  • “What do you need?”
    As a foster parent, you are taking on the needs of a child who has many needs! Do not add to their current burdens… try to remove a burden for them! And if they are too overwhelmed to offer a specific need, this question can also be re-phrased as, “Do you prefer wine or chocolate?”