FPAWS answers the 800-391-2273 toll-free hotline where caregivers can talk with an informed veteran caregiver who is familiar with DCYF current policy and practice. This is often the entry point for caregivers who are having challenges with the foster care system. FPAWS will guide the caller through the steps to get the answers they need or begin the process of walking beside them through the issue. FPAWS may train and encourage the caregivers to write “letters of understanding” as they communicate with Department of Children, Youth and Family (DCYF) staff and others. These letters let the social know what they believe the social worker said. This may include FPAWS writing or calling the Department of Children, Youth and Family staff that can help resolve the issue. It could include attending meetings or FTDMs with the caregiver. Support is whatever it takes to help the caregiver get their needs met. Sometimes that includes helping them understand the law, that it is not the social worker’s choice.
FPAWS believes there is a need for additional caregiver training, and something more than training. We believe caregivers need to gather with each other for comradery, support and an influx of hope for a better future. These gatherings are opportunities to build the caregiver community and break the sense of isolation by including their voices in the dialog for change.
FPAWS is committed to bringing relevant training to the communities where caregivers live. In partnership with the Coordinated Care Training Team, DCYF staff and many other trainers, there is no limit to the variety of training available for caregivers, from Trauma 101, Coping with Holiday Stress, to Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and Social Media Warnings. We even have a training to teach caregivers how to patch the holes some kids punch in their walls. Two parent trainee families can get their 12-14 hours of required training done in a day.
In all that FPAWS does, our eye is on helping caregivers feel empowered to keep going. This often includes helping the caregiver meet the challenges when they get an allegation. Though 96% of allegations against foster families are investigated and result in an unfounded, the pain and suffering can go on for months. By working with all the stakeholders, we want to help create a kinder, gentler investigative system that continues to be responsive to DLR requirements. Trusting families, their agencies and the people around them should be a bigger part of the equation.
Happy foster parents keep fostering. Happy adoptive parents adopt again! Happy kinship families keep the relatives in the family. These folks share their experiences with their friends, family, and social media contacts. FPAWS will work tirelessly to fulfill our vision and our mission so that the kids who come into care can succeed in every way possible.
High School Senior Volunteer Program:
Recruiting High School Seniors started as a program to bring daycare staff to our annual Pacific Northwest Caregivers Conference at Great Wolf Lodge. While supervised by our staff, up to 60 High School Seniors, with backgrounds checked, met their volunteer requirements by supporting foster kid’s ability to play safely at the water park while their parents attended training. Many of these youths continue to volunteer years after they graduate high school.
This program is growing as we hold our Conferences around the State and more High Schools get involved. We will continue to expand this program to provide daycare support for local foster care support groups. We are excited by the prospect that we may be able to add duties to these volunteers that include in-home support for foster parents. The possibilities are endless for role modeling and making connections. Caregivers are excited about just having a High School Senior coming over to play with the children in their foster home, helping children with homework or cleaning up after themselves. As these High School Seniors, their parents and their parent’s friends become more aware of the needs in the foster care system, it is our belief that this will lead to recruitment of more foster families.
Parent Allies FPAWS Team:
FPAWS and Parent Allies have formed a relationship to support a dependent kid’s best interest. The goal is reaching permanency as quickly as possible while maintaining connections between people that care about the child. Parent Allies present a perspective that caregivers need to hear. FPAWS brings these two groups together at our conferences. Parent Allies can reach out to bio-parents when foster parents report a challenge. At this writing, this work is in its infancy and both groups are excited about the possibilities.
FPAWS is developing a Research Group that will bring data to the issues in the foster care system. Foster Care is an incredibly emotional endeavor and requires decisions and direction driven by the data to show we are doing the best we can for kids and families in the system.
FPAWS & the Foster Care Crisis:
FPAWS has so many ways to help eliminate the foster care crisis. Our Conferences are huge; bringing support, training, resources, and connections that keep a foster parent going.
- 2014 – 6 Conferences – Caregiver Continuing Education total 405 Caregivers CCE 2990 hours
- 2015 – 4 Conferences – Caregiver Continuing Education total 352 Caregivers CCE 3732 hours
- 2016 – 5 Conferences – Caregiver Continuing Education total 410 Caregivers CCE 3750 hours
- 2017 -10 Conferences – Caregiver Continuing Education total 661 Caregivers CCE 4526 hours
Our work with the Parent Allies can lead to better caregiver/bio-parent cooperation, which can lead to better cooperation between all entities of the child’s case. Our developing the High School Senior volunteer program can bring many families into the foster care world as; in home supporters, daycare providers and prospective foster parents from these schools and families. Our work with Private Agencies can increase the foster parent voice in their arena. Our work with HB1624, Department of Children, Youth and Families Foster Parent Team has elevated and will continue to bring the caregiver voice to the table. FPAWS will be at the table as the new Department of Children, Youth & Families is established and grows. FPAWS response to calls our 1-800-391-2273 caregiver hotline means that a caring individual will be there for more than just information, but for a way forward in almost every situation.