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Cheryl Stephani’s May 2 message to Children’s staff

May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month

Some tangible ways we can show our support

Hello

I’m writing to update you on what we’ve learned so far from our quarterly meetings with foster parents, their representatives and the Foster Parent Association of Washington State (FPAWS).

The purpose of the meetings is to improve practice and build a better working relationship between CA and foster parents. An open dialogue on such issues as foster parent recruitment and retention, and training will strengthen our services and protect children.

Since November 2007 there have been three quarterly statewide consultation meetings held across the state. It is good to get together. Because whether we are foster parents or CA staff, we all want the same thing – safety, well-being and permanence for children in care.

Foster parents want to partner with you. They want you to know that they appreciate how hard you work, and that CA staff have very busy work schedules. They also said that communications frequently works well, and that when it does they are better able to care for their foster children. When we asked them what that communication and support looked like, they shared with us their observations about what works well:

  • It’s really great when we have all available history (medical, mental health, education, medications) about the child placed into our care on the day they are placed.
  • A follow-up phone call within 24 to 48 hours of placement to share any missed information regarding the child. Just a check back to see, “How is it going?” (They said they really appreciate it when that happens.)
  • Ready access to our foster child’s social worker or designee when we need to talk through an emergency, or a crisis, or to provide any child related updates.
  • Respect by being heard and included in the child’s case plan.
  • Staff who use their “out of office assistant” function on their computer.
  • Phone or e-mail messages returned within 24-48 hours, even if it’s just to say “It will take me a little more time to research your request.”
  • Mutually respectful communication.

So thanks to all of you who show your appreciation of foster parents in these tangible ways. You are an inspiration to all of us to examine our own communication responsiveness and make efforts to show foster parents in concrete ways how much we appreciate their incredible work.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for all your hard work and dedication! If you have questions or comments please Send a message to Cheryl.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Stephani
Assistant Secretary
Children’s Administration