The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Introduction: The Foster Parents We Need
Represent Staff
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A good foster parent must embrace many contradictions: Don’t take it personally when a foster youth acts out, but do show that child the same love and care you show your biological children. Follow the rules of foster care, but buy a child a child something out of your own pocket to make them feel welcomed. Give foster youth the boundaries and rules they need, but also be flexible and nonjudgmental.

Some foster parents, sadly, are in it for the money. This issue is for those who are doing it for the right reasons and who’d like to get better at it. The stories all contains gems of advice; below are links to the specific stories that illustrate the following tips:

Explain Rules: It’s good to have rules and boundaries so that we know what to expect. Please explain the rules and the reasons for them and enforce them consistently and fairly. (See these stories: "Helping Me With Control" and "How to Be a Great Foster Parent")

Allow Anger: If we’re angry, ask us why, and let us express ourselves. We might not have gotten help from parents before in understanding what we’re feeling. Be patient and understanding. ("Helping Me With Control")

Let Us Maintain Relationships: You don’t take the place of our parents and other family members, but you can still make a positive difference in our lives. Let us see our parents. ("Mutual Respect", "How to Be a Great Foster Parent", "Working As a Team", "Not Too Late for a Mother")

Just Ask: Ask us if there’s anything that particularly upsets us, so you can try not to say or do that. ("Mutual Respect")

Promote Permanence: Communicate that you are sticking with us. ("Mutual Respect", "How to Be a Great Foster Parent", "Not Too Late for a Mother")

Listen: Do more listening than lecturing. ("Mutual Respect", "Connecting Through Culture")

Share: Share your relevant experience and advice with us in a supportive, encouraging manner. ("Connecting Through Culture", "Not Too Late for a Mother", "Finally, a Work Role Model")

Be Interested: Offer support and help. Take an interest in the things that interest us, and help us pursue positive goals and activities. ("Connecting Through Culture", "Finally, a Work Role Model", "Slightly Open Arms")

Include Us: Include us in family activities, but don’t force it when we express that we need some space. ("Mutual Respect", "What We Might Not Say")

Treat Us Equally: Try not to make distinctions between your foster youth and your own children. We don’t deserve to feel different or less than. ("How to Be a Great Foster Parent", "What We Might Not Say")

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