To become a foster parent, there are required classes that must be completed called PATH classes. If you have been a foster parent before you might have just had a PTSD moment just from hearing the word PATH. 😂
Because we were considered kinship foster parents, the kids came to live with us prior to us beginning classes. My parents had to attend also since we all lived with them the first 4 months. They also don’t provide childcare which I thought was crazy. We wanted to power through the classes so we attended them 2-3x a week. Some of these classes are 3-4 hrs long if I remember correctly.
It’s a little easier if you are planning to be a foster parent because you can complete these classes on your timeline and over a longer period of time. You have to do a certain number of classes every year that you are a foster parent or the state will close your home.
Some of these classes taught me a great deal. I remember one class that talked about how foster children’s actions shouldn’t be misinterpreted. For instance, a child who misbehaves or pushes people away may just be testing someone to see if they really love them. A kid who hasn’t had access to food, might hoard or hide food in their rooms. Even as young as Tyler was, he hoarded food. I would give him little ziplock bags of cheerios, etc. and one day I saw him drop it in a corner behind a box. When I looked behind the box, there were several little baggies. I didn’t realize until I took this class that he was making sure he wouldn’t go hungry. That tore me up.
Other classes weren’t as helpful. One of the classes we took talked about child abuse and while I thought the information was good some of the class activities were questionable. For one activity, we divided into 4 groups. She insisted that women and men be in separate groups even from spouses. We were told when our group looked at our poster board, we would see a word and we were to come up with other words for that word. To my group’s horror, when we flipped over our poster, we saw the word Masturbation. Let’s just say that we didn’t know too many other words for that and it was one of the most awkward group activities I have ever completed. To make matters worse, when we were done we had to read our words out loud for the entire room to hear. My group voted for me to do it (that’s what I get for being talkative). I understood the importance of us knowing other words in case a foster child ever mentioned it, but I felt that a handout might have been sufficient. 😳 I hope to never hear any of those words in my life!
The second year, James and I decided (a little last minute) that we would attend the state conference because you can complete all of the required classes in 3 days. We were only able to attend 2 of the days, but it was still a huge timesaver. Make sure to sign up early for this though because the hotel you get placed in is first come first serve and we were left with the bottom of the barrel. I actually took pictures of our hotel room because there was a cut off piece of cable coming out of the wall and we listened to dogs bark the entire night, lol!! So much for a parenting break! We did have fun and we met a lot of interesting people along the way!