As you can imagine with eleven children, it seems that all my wife and I do is clean, wash, and supervise. The cooking is nonstop, the washing of dirty clothes is around the clock, and the supervision is often done with one eye towards one group of children, while the other eye is watching out for the others. Is it pandemonium in our house? Perhaps. Is it a house that is never fully clean? Without a doubt. Is it a house full of love? Absolutely! At the moment, my wife and I seem to be burning both ends of a candle stick right now, and we are a little tired. Just a little, mind you. Yet, as exhausting and as grueling as it can be with so many children in our home, and with so many emotional issues and challenges, one thing we have to be consistent in is with supervision.
Supervision of your foster child is a must at all times. You will be held responsible for his whereabouts and safety, and may be held accountable if he should come to harm. It is not only important that you know where your foster child is at all times, it is essential. If your foster child should wish to visit a friend’s house or another home, do a thorough check of who lives there, the environment he will be in, and the level of safety and supervision he will be under. Be sure to call the parents of the home he wishes to visit; not only to ensure that the environment is a safe one, but to express any concerns about your foster child you might have with them. If you feel that the friend’s home environment is not a safe one, do not be afraid to say no to the foster child. After all, you will also need to be certain that all after school functions he participates in are closely supervised, as well, before giving him permission before he takes part.
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The supervision of your foster child is also necessary in your own home, as well. Like many children, it might be unwise to allow him to play unattended at any one time. If he is in his room playing or even napping, make sure that his door is open, if just a little bit. From time to time, check in on him, and make certain that he is okay and not doing anything that you would disapprove of. If he is in the back yard, make sure that he will come to no harm out there by stray animals, sharp objects, unwelcome visitors, or by simply wandering off by himself. Again, you will wish to periodically check in on him from time to time, while he is outside. If he is rather young, you will want an adult out there with him, at all times. Whether he is inside your home or outside, make certain that there are not too many places where he might hide himself. Some children might escape into a world of imagination and fun by hiding, while others might hide in an attempt to escape the harsh realities they have faced, or do so out of anger and resentment towards an adult. Make sure you know the locations of all the places your foster child might hide, and try to eliminate as many of these as possible.
As I travel across the United States, delivering speeches and training seminars, I am often asked by foster parents how I am able to do it, while looking so young. I jokingly respond by stating that a number of plastic surgeries on my face has kept me half way decent looking, while working under a 32 hour day, as well. Yet, in truth, I am just like any other good foster parent in that that I have to delegate my time throughout each day, in order to accomplish at least half of what I set out to do at sunrise. Much of this time is spent in caring for the children in my house, and ensuring that they are safe. Indeed, not only safe, but protected and loved as well.
Dr. John DeGarmo
For more, purchase Dr. DeGarmo’s training book, The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home.