February 14, 2022 – Child & Family would like to celebrate longtime Foster Parent, Karen Vincent, and congratulate her on the recent adoption of her 13-year-old daughter Sofia. Foster care and adoption were never the plan for Karen. As a mother who raised three of her own children, Karen started her foster care journey taking in two children through Kinship Foster Care. Then, her daughter’s best friend needed help with her six-month-old and one-and-a-half-year-old children after a family tragedy. Some would say fate had different plans for Karen.
Now, nearly 30 years later, Karen has welcomed over 25 children into her home through foster care. Some stay for a short period of time and some stay for years, but all receive the respect, structure, and love that these children need and deserve. At the same time Karen adopted Sofia, she also took over as legal guardian for her foster daughter Hailey, age 13. The reason Karen chose guardianship over adoption for Hailey is because she still has a relationship with her birth mother and father. The goal of foster care is to find what works best for each individual child, and often family preservation is key. Their birth parents may not be in the best position to raise their children, but that does not mean they do not love them. When asked what made Karen choose to adopt and take over guardianship for Sofia and Hailey, she said “I could never think of Sofia and Hailey temporarily; they needed stability, structure, and support. After being in the foster care system for years, I could not let them start over again with another family.”
With all her years of experience, Karen is known as a foster parent that can take on more challenging cases. She has the knowledge to help children who have experienced trauma, may have anger and/or trust issues, or simply need guidance learning basic life skills like nutrition and hygiene at an older age. Child & Family’s Foster Care Program is uniquely positioned to manage children through a trauma-informed approach through therapeutic support. Additional resources are provided to achieve success in the home, school, and community. Many foster children experience emotional and behavioral challenges related to loss and trauma. Child & Family knows supporting these children in a consistent, supportive family setting is crucial to their success.
When asked what advice Karen would give someone thinking of becoming a foster parent, her advice is “keep an open mind, you cannot be judgmental. These parents were not able to parent their children for a reason, through no fault of their children. The kids need support and to be reminded their parents do love them, even if they miss a visitation or are unable to meet their obligations in some way. Our job as a foster parent is to provide love and structure, for a short time, so that the family can heal.” Karen also suggests interested foster parents try it out through respite care, which is the temporary care of children in foster care in instances where their primary caregivers are unable to provide attention temporarily or need time for some R&R. Typically, the time of care can range from an evening or a weekend, to a few weeks. This is a great option to see how foster care fits with your life.
When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed her experience with foster care, Karen says they have struggles just like any family. “You do the best you can to vaccinate and protect your children, and sometimes COVID can still be brought into the family. But that should not scare anyone from becoming a foster parent. These children need support, now more than ever.”
Child & Family is always looking for new foster families. If you are interested in making a direct impact on a child in need by becoming a foster parent, please reach out to Child & Family’s Foster Care Team at Foster@childandfamilyri.org or visit www.childandfamilyri.org. They can walk you through the process, introduce you to foster parent mentors, and guide you through getting your license. There is a child out there today that needs your help!
 Kinship Foster Care includes the full-time care of a child by relatives or other adults who have a bond with the child (Child Welfare League of America, 2007). Kinship Care refers to the care, nurture, and protection of children by relatives or significant adults when children cannot stay in their own home because of child protection concerns.