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A Fostered Life Podcast

Host Christy Tennant Krispin explores the various facets of foster care through the voices of people who participate in the system.

Like this podcast? Please rate us on iTunes and become a $1+ patron on Patreon! Click here to learn more.

Episode 10

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, one in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and can have a profound affect on the victim's mental health. Victims are four times more likely than non-victims to develop symptoms of drug abuse and/or experience PTSD as adults, and they’re three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults.

Out of the 63,000 sexual abuse cases substantiated by Child Protective Services each year, 80% of perpetrators of sexual violence against children were parents. Many of those children are placed in foster care, and it is vital for foster parents to be equipped to support children who have been traumatized sexually.

My guest in today’s episode is Kevin, a man who knows all too well how being sexually abused as a child affects a person’s life. As he shares from his experience, Kevin offers invaluable insight and advice for those of us who may be called on to care for children who are victims of sexual violence. 

I’m so grateful for Kevin’s transparency, vulnerability, and willingness to share about this extremely hard topic, and I know you’ll gain as much from  this conversation as I did.

Kevin's Suggested Resources for Victims of Sexual Trauma and Abuse

Books*: 
 
Websites:
 
Podcasts:
Healing Warriors Male Abuse Survivors
 
Crisis Lines:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
24hr Crisis Line
206-461-3222, local
7-1-1, WA relay
866-4CRISIS national

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

*Amazon Affiliate Links

Like this podcast? Please rate us on iTunes and become a $1+ patron on Patreon! Click here to learn more.

Episode 9 

 

One of the things many people say when they hear that I’m a foster parent is, “I couldn’t imagine getting attached to a child and then having to give them back.” While I can appreciate that people are just expressing their honest feelings, the truth is, that sentiment shows a total lack of understanding about the main point of foster care, which is precisely to love a child to the point of getting attached and then “giving them back” to their parents.

Reunification is the first goal of foster care. When a child is removed from their parents, usually the plan is to provide a safe and loving and nurturing home for them while their parents do the hard work of getting to a place where they can safely parent their children again. It’s messy. It’s an emotional roller coaster. And it’s not always possible. Just over half of children in foster care will be reunified. The rest will be raised by relatives, adopted by foster parents, or remain in foster care until they “age out.” 

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that foster parents can play a crucial role in supporting reunification, and in today’s podcast, I’m speaking with a fellow foster parent named Lauren who did just that. The focus of today’s episode is how foster parents can be intentional and proactive in supporting the mothers (and/or in some cases fathers) of the children in their care, championing their efforts to get their children back.

Let me be very clear, though, before we launch into this conversation: this is often the hardest part of foster parenting. The emotional toll is high, and the grief a foster family experiences after reunification is real. 

I’m grateful that Lauren shared from her experiences with me, and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

Mentioned in this episode:

Suddenly Siblings: https://www.facebook.com/suddenlysiblings/

Family Meeting Video from A Fostered Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOgFoXo_3d0&t=35s

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

Like this podcast? Become a $1+ patron! Click here to learn more.

Episode 8 

Bryan Post is one of America’s foremost child behavior experts and he’s the co-founder of The Post Institute for Family-Centered Therapy. The Post Institute works with adults, children and families struggling with early life trauma and the impact on the development of the mind/body system. Bryan has authored or co-authored several books, including From Fear to Love: Parenting Difficult Adopted Children and Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors, which is on my “Must Read” list and was the focus of The Flourishing Foster Parent’s Summer Book Series.

The Post Institute also has a vibrant Facebook community, where Bryan publishes “Bryan Post’s Daily Dose,” short words of guidance and encouragement for parents who care for challenging children. My family has benefitted so much from the work of Bryan and his team, and I was thrilled when he accepted my invitation to be today’s guest.

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

When I put out a call recently for guests for this podcast, I was overwhelmed by the response. So many people have written to me, from social workers to foster parents to former foster youth, all willing to share a bit of their stories in order to help enlarge and shape foster parent’s perspective on our role in the lives of the children in our care.  

Today’s guest is one such person, and I am so grateful to have had a chance to speak with her. Melissa Smallwood has such an amazing and redemptive story, beginning with her own experience as a youth in foster care. I don’t want to tell you too much, because she did a great job of speaking for itself, but I will say this: it was so refreshing to speak with a woman who approaches life and family and what it means to be a foster parent with such love and compassion. 

When you have a chance, take a moment to visit Melissa’s web site, www.melissasmallwood.com. Our conversation today only scratched the surface, and she has so much to offer foster and adoptive moms especially.

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that, while I have a lot to learn from other, more experienced foster parents, mental health professionals, books, etc., the people who have taught me more than anything about how to be a good foster parent or foster caregiver if you prefer is children who are or were in foster care. The kids who have come and gone from our home as well as adults who are former foster youth have taught me more than anyone about what it’s like for kids in foster care and what they need most from those of us who step in to care for them when they are in trauma or transition. One of the things I love about this podcast is that it’s giving me a chance to connect with people like today’s guest—former foster youth who are willing to share from their experiences in order to help foster parents like me do a better job caring for our kids.

Brittney entered foster care when she was 16, but her journey with the department of child services and CPS started way before that—years earlier. Brittney spent most of her childhood bouncing around between friends and family members, going from school to school (or sometimes not going to school at all), experiencing many forms of trauma and violence, before finally entering foster care as a teen. When she did, she landed in a home where her life changed dramatically for the better. As I listened to Brittney, I noticed a theme that comes up over and over when I hear from former foster youth, and that theme is presence. What foster youth need more than anything else when their own parents are unable or unwilling to care for them is a caring adult who is consistently present—someone who is there for them through thick and thin and able to give unconditional love and patient guidance. 

It’s so important for us foster parents to hear from those who have lived through the system. So with that, here’s my conversation with Brittney.

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

Welcome to A Fostered Life, the show in which we explore the various facets of foster care through the voices of the many people who participate in the system. I’m your host, Christy Tennant Krispin, and this is episode five. 

 

It’s back to school time, and for youth in foster care, that can either be a really good thing or a really, really hard thing (or a bit of both.) Today I’m speaking with Ernest Henderson, Associate Director of Eastern Washington Education Programs at Treehouse. Ernest not only brings the professional insights of someone who devotes his career to helping foster youth succeed in school, but he also brings a background of being a former foster youth and a former foster parent. In this episode we discuss some of the ways a foster parent can support their child in school, how to navigate communicating with your child’s teachers and school personnel, and tips for preparing your foster youth to succeed in a new school. We also touched on positive discipline for youth in foster care and ways to empower and encourage our kids. Ernest mentioned a few things for foster parents to learn more about, including the Every Student Succeeds Act, and I’ve included several helpful links in the shownotes for this episode—so be sure to check those out. I really appreciated what Ernest had to share, and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did! 

 

Links discussed in this conversation include:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA At a Glance—What You Need to Know

Treehouse for Kids

Treehouse Educational Advocacy

 

Contact Ernest Henderson, Jr:

ernest.henderson@treehouseforkids.org

 

For more information and resources for foster parents, please visit afosteredlife.com, where you’ll find blog posts, youtube videos, and social media links so you can connect with others on the foster parenting journey.

If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about foster care.

Be sure to subscribe!

Episode 4

 

Today I'm speaking with Dena Johnson, an adoptive mother and trauma and attachment therapist who focuses her practice on counseling foster and adoptive families. The first time I heard Dena speak was at a conference for foster and adoptive parents several years ago. I was really struggling with some of the challenges of being a caregiver for children with a background of trauma, and I was so grateful for her honest, down-to-earth, approachable and hopeful tone and helpful practical insights for parents and caregivers. Dena shares really informative content about trauma-informed parenting on her Facebook Page at Dena Johnson Counseling, and today I asked Dena to talk a bit about what she would say to her younger self with the benefit of years of experience and hindsight. Dena offers transparency and vulnerability, letting us know we are not alone when we’re facing challenges and struggles as we seek to serve our children with compassion and empathy. She’s been a real blessing to me, and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 

 

For more resources for foster parents, including videos, articles, recommended resources, and more, visit www.afosteredlife.com.

Click Here to Subscribe to the Podcast!

Episode 3

In 1988, a group of DSHS social workers grew tired of seeing the deprivation often faced by children in foster care. They started purchasing the little things needed to help children feel loved and capable—things like birthday presents and school supplies—funded by community bake sales and car washes.

That little band of dedicated social workers evolved into what is known today in the state of Washington as Treehouse, an organization that helps more than 7,000 youth in foster care each year. Offering programs that focus on academic success, fulfilling key material needs and providing the important childhood experiences every child deserves are the focus of this organization, and in 2012, Treehouse embarked on a bold and ambitious goal to address the alarmingly high high school dropout rate among youth in foster care. Treehouse has acquired a track record of success in helping youth in foster care thrive, and today it’s my pleasure to be speaking with two of Treehouse’s finest team members: Launch Success Coach Alex Cornell and PR Specialist Jesse Colman.

For more resources for foster parents, including videos, articles, recommended resources, and more, visit www.afosteredlife.com.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast!

Episode 2:

Lacey entered foster care for the first time when she was six months old. After spending her entire childhood in and out of foster care, including attending thirteen (!!!) different elementary schools, Lacey was adopted just two weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday. Today, she is a wife and mother who is thriving in her forever family.

Oh, and she and her husband just became licensed as foster parents, too!

In this episode of A Fostered Life, Lacey and Christy chat about some of Lacey's experience as a foster youth, how she ended up being adopted, and what her relationship with her adoptive family is like now, twelve years later. 

If you are hesitant about fostering teens, I know that listening to what Lacey has to say will inspire you to reconsider. There is so much to be gained by giving a teenager in foster care the security and love of a forever family and watching them heal over time. 

 

For more resources for foster parents from A Fostered Life, visit www.afosteredlife.com.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast!

Episode 1:

As a licensed master social worker, previous youth in foster care and current foster parent, Amber Jewell has a unique perspective on the foster care system and how it affects youth. In this inaugural episode of A Fostered Life, Amber sheds light on how being part of the system can affect youth in care, and she gives some helpful input on what teens in care need in order to thrive as they move into adulthood.

Despite the hardships that come in life, Amber believes in the power of any individual, at any age to make positive changes, impact others and improve their phase of life. She has confidence in the ability of professionals to plant many seeds in the lives of those they serve, and she offers her input in this podcast to help foster parents grow and gain insight and skills in order to better serve the children in our care.

To learn more about Amber or invite her to share her remarkable and inspirational story with your organization, visit her web site (www.ambermjewell.com).

For more resources for foster parents from A Fostered Life, visit www.afosteredlife.com.

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