foster support

Social Media Tips, Rules and Considerations for Foster Parents

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Foster parents often have many concerns about internet safety. You are probably wondering what programs are out there to help monitor social media and if you should set up house rules. We’ve found some resources for you and we hope you find them helpful. If you as a foster parent have any advice to share with other families, please send it to us.

It is important to work with the child(ren) in your care to set up rules and discuss how social media accounts will be monitored.  AdoptUSKids has a good article about teen social media use and what you can do to help them use social media. This article provides a list of questions to ask yourself about where you stand in regard to social media and has some conversation points for talking with teens. Here is the article: https://www.adoptuskids.org/about-us/news-and-announcements/story?k=social-media-teens

You might wonder, how do you set up social media rules and how to you monitor their account closely? Common Sense Media has created a useful worksheet for setting up family media agreements based on the age of the child(ren). This worksheet has the goals of staying safe, thinking first and staying balanced. Examples of a family media plan include agreeing to not give out private information, not setting up an account without permission, only sharing passwords with family and not filling out forms with personal information. Reminding kids to “think first” is an important part of this plan – kids needs to remember to be kind when they communicate online and to remember that the internet is public and information can spread fast and far.  To view this family plan to either use or create one of your own, visit the following link: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/imce/educatefamilies_fma_all.pdf

Facebook offers advice on how to “Play it Safe.” Review the child’s privacy settings with them and show them the Activity Log feature that lets them review and manage what they’ve shared on Facebook. The Facebook advice page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/parents/ Parents should also keep a close eye on the child(ren)’s friend list to see who they are friending and if they are appropriate. An article published by Missouri University states “if adolescents have few friends on Facebook, foster parents need to find out whether they have other, hidden online profiles or if they’re having problems making friends.”

Here are some more resources as you navigate social media and how it can work for your family and the kids in your care.

WV DHHR Policy on Social Media and the lives of foster/adoptive children:

Page 76 section 3, link.

3. It is the policy of the DHHR/BCF to encourage normalcy in the lives of foster/adoptive children. As such, it is acceptable to post photos of a foster/adoptive child(ren) in family or group setting (school, sports, sleepovers, parties, etc.) on social media. However, in any social media posting,(photographic or print) foster/adoptive parents are prohibited from releasing any information regarding: the fact that the children are in a foster/adoptive circumstance, the foster adoptive child(ren)’s previous custodians, geographic or demographic information that could jeopardize the foster child(ren)’s safety, or any other information that would breach the confidentiality provisions of West Virginia Code Section §49-5-101. These prohibitions continue even after any placement has ended. Furthermore, for the safety of the children, it is strongly advised that all such postings be made on private settings, to be seen by the foster/adoptive parent’s friend groups only and not posted publicly.

If you have any questions about social media use, we encourage you to have a conversation with your worker.   

Foster Care in WV and the Basic Certification Requirements

Foster care is a temporary living situation for children whose parents cannot safely care for them.  When a child is abused and/or neglected by their guardian, it is brought to the attention (usually by a report of child abuse or neglect) to the Department of Health and Human Resources. Social workers will then investigate and if the report is found to be true, the child(ren) is then removed from the unsafe situation and placed into the state’s foster care system.

Foster mom and kids

These children range in age from babies to teens and are most often placed in foster care through no fault of their own. While in foster care, children might live with a relative, a certified foster family or in a residential facility. In a residential facility, a group of children in foster care live together with staff members who work in shifts. In West Virginia, there are more than 6,000 kids in foster care so there is a great need for more foster families to provide a caring and loving home.

The ultimate goal of foster care is for children to return to their home, this is also called reunification. In the best situation, the child or children’s parents can make the changes that are needed to safely parent. The amount of time children stay in foster care depends on their family’s situation. This could mean a short stay in foster care or could be a longer amount of time depending on what changes or program the court has required the parents to complete.

If the child’s birth parents are unable to safely parent their child(ren) and make the changes that are necessary, the parent(s) can voluntarily give up their parental rights OR the court can terminate the parents’ rights. The child(ren) is/are then legally eligible for adoption, which can be finalized in a court of law. The adoptive parent then becomes the child’s legal parent and has the same formal and legal responsibility for the child as if they were the biological parent.

The criteria to be a foster parent and/or to adopt from foster care are the same.  They include the following: 

  • You must be between the ages of 21 and 65 (they have not changed this yet)
  • Have a stable & secure income.
  • Be in good physical/mental health.
  • Pass a home safety inspection.
  • Free of any substantiated child abuse reports and free of a criminal background.
  • Have a stable family relationship.

*Requirements may vary depending on the agency you are working with.

FrameWorks Resource Library

Our FrameWorks program offers a great resource for foster and adoptive families in West Virginia - our Resource Library! We have an abundant collection of books that cover a wide array of subjects that we especially chose for foster and adoptive families. Subjects include general foster and adoption care; kinship care; attachment and bonding; special needs; general parenting; transracial adoption and more. 

A variety of books and DVDs are available for loan through this library and a full listing can be found here: FRAMEWORKS RESOURCE LIBRARY

You can borrow 3 to 4 items at a time and they are due back 4 weeks after they are received. We will mail the materials to you with a pre-addressed and stamped mailed envelope to make returns easy. 

A few of the book options include:

What Works: How to Raise Amazing Kids in Spite of the Foster Care System

What Works: How to Raise Amazing Kids in Spite of the Foster Care System -
This book was written by Stacey Addison, a school teacher and mother of six children she adopted from foster care.  This book explains a system to help parents avoid making rash decisions based on emotions, and instead, maintain and enforce consistent expectations. 

Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens

Beneath the MASK: Understanding Adopted Teens - This book explains how the key to successful therapy and healthy development is to help the adolescent discover and accept the person within.  It covers the six most common adoption "stuck-spots" and provides information about how therapy can help adoptive families learn and grow together. 

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Creating Loving Attachments: Parenting with PACE to Nurture Confidence and Security in the Troubled Child -  This book explains that a loving home is not always enough. Children who have experienced trauma need to be parented in a special way so they feel safe, secure and are able to build attachments that allow them to heal.  It covers PACE, four valuable elements of parenting that can help children feel confident and secure. 

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Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me!: The Solution to Sibling Bickering - This book by Dr. Anthony Wolf offers a new strategy for coping with sibling bickering. Dr. Wolf presents three essential rules for dealing with sibling arguments and addresses a wide range of issues. This is a book about real children and what you can do to alleviate the strife between siblings. 

Books and DVDs can be requested by visiting our Resource Library page and filling out the online form, calling 866-CALL-MWV or by emailing fosteradopt(at)missionwv.org