I maintain the same standards for a foster child that I would for a biological child. I do not talk about “if” they go to college, but instead often discuss “when” they go to college. Our family follows college sports teams, visits college campuses, and often discusses majors that the kids might enjoy.
In addition, I encourage all of the children to live with me even after they graduate from high school. I explain to them that I will pay all of the bills, provide all of the food, and they would have a place to do laundry for free. The kids all understand that the state (in Texas) will pay for their college tuition and fees. I will do my best to help out with their books. Therefore, if they work while in college, they can save all the money they make for a down payment on a house or a car if needed. I truly hope that the kids take this offer as I really do think it will help to insure them an easier future. In addition, I feel that I can provide far more assistance to them in their schooling if they live at home, and hopefully I can help them to avoid many of the pitfalls that cause problems for some students. Either way, I continually build up the idea of going to college and encourage them in their education and career goals. If you believe in the children and have high expectations for them, they are far more likely to believe in themselves. I fully understand and acknowledge that college is not “right” for everyone. The point of this section is that whatever the goal, we should aim high, believe in those entrusted to us and be deliberate in helping them select the future career and educational path best suited for them for their talents, dreams and abilities (one the most foundational being the ability to pay bills and support oneself after they leave your home)
In addition to a commitment to support them during their college years, I maintain an active role in their present schooling. I e-mail their teachers to see how they are doing in class, both with academics and behavior. The frequency of these e-mails varies greatly with necessity warranted by the individual child. Typically, I will discipline children for behavior problems but not academic problems. However, if they are having any academic problems, I like to speak with the children so they are able to get caught up before report cards are sent out. I have found the teachers to be extremely supportive in working with the kids. Often, they will send me an e-mail if they notice any problems. I can speak as a teacher, in saying that educators are probably doing their best. If you have a positive attitude, they will be happy to work with you and your children in any way needed. However, if you blame them for your child’s discipline problems, they will avoid you like the plague. Keep this in mind when working with your child’s teachers.
In addition, be sure that you keep up with the days you are to send snacks, posters, etc.
Participate in other class events or field trips as appropriate. You don’t have to do everything, but you do need to take an active role in your child’s life and plan ahead. The kids will love all of the special events and class parties. You may be tired and feel that it’s a waste of your time and energy. Just remember, it shows the children that you care about them and what’s important to them. Go ahead and fill out 500 cards the night before Valentine’s Day or send cookies to the Christmas party. You’ll be thankful you did later — even if you don’t feel that way at midnight the night before when you’re still baking.