Washington County Hosts a Class for Prospective Foster Parents

Many families in the Woodbury area are interested in opening their homes—and hearts—to foster children, but there’s a common barrier that might surprise you: uncertainty about just what becoming a foster family entails. If you’re interested in getting involved in the foster system but aren’t sure where to start, there’s a new program coming your way to help bridge the education gap.

Washington County Community Services child foster care licensor John Lukach will be one of the instructors for the new program, offered through South Washington County Community Education. He explains that, in the free class, Foster Parenting 101, “prospective foster families will learn how child protection operates and what causes a child to be placed in foster care.”

The class will start with the basics: Prospective foster families will learn about the day-to-day life of foster parenting. The class will also cover what it takes to become a foster parent in Washington County, and participants will receive a foster parent application at the end of their training.

Washington County realized the program would be beneficial when there was a large demand for foster parents. How could they get more families involved? After the initial idea was hatched, more than 40 professionals from various education departments came together to come up with ways to engage families in the program, according to Lukach. “We want to build relationships and educate people about the work we do. It is important for residents to have a personal connection to what otherwise might seem like a large and confusing bureaucratic system,” he says.

By making foster family education more accessible, the program is able to reach a larger audience. There’s less mystery about what goes on behind the scenes in foster families. Lukach and the other community education instructors are coming together to clear up the confusion.

At the end of the day, Washington County’s goal is clear. “[We] hope to not only attract new foster parents, but also to educate people as to how child welfare services support the local community,” says Lukach.

Even if you’re not interested in becoming a foster parent yourself, Lukach says that foster family education can benefit everyone. By learning about the program and the process, Washington County residents “can still become informed citizens and share the knowledge they gain with friends and family.”

Foster Parenting 101, a one-evening course, will be held at East Ridge High School this month. Instructors cover topics including how child protection manages the foster care system; the process of becoming a foster parent and the funding that comes with it; and what happens after a foster parent has been licensed, including how foster parents are matched with foster children. Participants will also learn about the unique emotional needs foster children might have, like coping with attachment issues, trauma, grief and loss. At the end of the session, instructors will host a 30-minute Q&A period.

For parents fostering children from a different cultural background than themselves, Foster Parenting 101 won’t cover cross-cultural parenting, but that topic is “something that is covered in-depth as part of the foster care licensing process,” says Lukach.

Registration for the class can be found at the South Washington County Schools Community Education website and is free to those interested in attending.   

Foster Parenting 101
October 25
6:30-9 p.m.
East Ridge High School, 4200 Pioneer Drive
Free; registration required.
Register at the website here.