So, You Want to Be a Foster Parent

By John Gaines

Becoming a foster parent can be an incredibly rewarding experience but can also be very challenging, especially for first-time parents. There are many potential emotional issues that may surprise foster parents, who may feel overwhelmed and have a sense of insufficient support from the community. But people who choose to become foster parents are performing wonderful deeds, and the library offers many means of support for them. Below are some of the resources we have available.

Salem Church Branch offers classes on foster parenting on the second Tuesdays of each month. “Learn About Becoming a Foster Parent” classes are presented by Embrace Foster Care, an organization that supports foster care children and their parents with 24-hour on-call availability, intuitive training, and team decision-making with caseworkers. Each of these classes runs an hour and a half and provides prospective foster parents with a wealth of information on the responsibilities, challenges, and benefits of becoming a foster parent.

We also have many books available at the library on foster care and how to be a successful foster parent. The Connected Child offers advice on how to incorporate foster children into an already existing family unit and build trust with them. The Foster Parenting Toolbox has advice from caseworkers, curriculum creators, and experienced foster parents on how to deal with the potentially difficult situations that may arise in the course of being a foster parent.  

To the End of June is a look at the weaknesses and failures of the U.S. foster care system. It tells how foster parents can find success in spite of these deficiencies and details the push for changes within the system. The Foster Parenting Manual provides an explanation of how the foster care system currently functions, the history of foster care in the U.S., and how foster parents can better work with the caseworkers and birth parents. A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children offers practical suggestions compiled from many foster parents, including how to prioritize issues and when to seek professional help.

We have many books and resources available at the library for foster parents at any stage of their journey. You can also use the links available from the National Foster Parent Association if you need additional materials. Remember that as a foster parent you are not alone, and Central Rappahannock Regional Library will strive to find all the resources it can to support you. 

Foster care is most frequently administered through local social services offices. Click the name of each jurisdiction for its contact point: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Westmoreland County.

Here is a list of books that people considering becoming foster parents may find helpful:

This book helps introduce young children to the idea of a foster family. Also available as an eBook.


"Distilling many years' experience into one book, foster and adoptive parent John DeGarmo combines his own hard-won wisdom with that of fellow foster parents. He describes what to expect from the process, how to access help and support and how to ensure the best care for your child."


"...a concise guide to fostering that summarizes what to expect as a foster parent. It guides you through the different stages of a fostering relationship, including common issues encountered at each age and how to tackle them. It provides guidance on understanding the impact of trauma on your child and their behaviour, and offers tips and strategies on how to offer the best support."


"Over 100 foster parents in the trenches, case workers, social workers, CASAs, GALs and judges contributed to this book to help all those on the child's team understand and work better with the children who are entrusted to their care. Covering topics from newborns to teens and everything in between, this book will help not only foster parents but be beneficial to those who work with foster parents: case workers, social workers, judges, CASA's, GAL s and others."


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