Social networking sites open up a new way to communicate with birth parents and other biological family members. Facebook and other networking sites allow foster children and birth parents to remain in day to day contact, as it allows the foster child the opportunity to continue in a relationship that is important to him. This helps to allow him to heal from the separation from his family. Birth parents are able to use social networking to help in their healing process, as well. Along with this, day to day contact with the child, plus the benefit of seeing pictures and posts on the child’s homepage, may possibly encourage the birth parent’s to work even harder on their caseload, in the hopes of reunification with their loved one.
- Join the thousands who receive Dr. DeGarmo's FREE foster care newsletter. Simply fill out the form below.
Foster parents can give regular updates on the child’s progress, including school behavior, and emotional and well being status. Foster parents can also have the ability to contact birth parents about any questions they might have regarding their foster child’s past. Social networking does present problems to foster children, though. Some caseworkers may prefer that contact with birth parents be limited. Yet, with social networking, this can be most difficult, and almost impossible, for foster parents to monitor. More and more birth parents are contacting their foster children through social networking sites, many times against the wishes of foster parents and the caseworker. Birth parents are able to openly communicate with their child unsupervised, which can lead to false accusations as well as false promises from the birth.
Indeed, social networking is a whole new world for all involved in foster care; a world that can be both wonderful and dangerous at the same time. “There is the chat component of Facebook,” one caseworker noted, “where a child and their parent could essentially have a conversation that no one would be able to monitor unless they were sitting right next to the child, which is a grave concern.” Case managers would have to be familiar with the birth parent's Facebook page before the foster child was to even access it. Another caseworker suggested that, “I am personally aware of inappropriate things that parents post on their Facebook pages that would not be appropriate for their children to view. Not only might there be inappropriate information and comments on there, there also might be inappropriate photos and other harmful content that the children do not need to be exposed to.”
To be sure, social networking is a whole new world for all involved in foster care; a world that can be both wonderful and dangerous at the same time. Much more information and research is needed before the social network explosion engulfs foster care.
- Dr. John DeGarmo
For more foster parenting help, purchase The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home.