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6 Tips from Foster Youth on What Makes a Good Foster Parent

Currently, there are more than 3,000 youth in foster care in NW Missouri, and we need more individuals and families who are willing to open up their hearts and their homes to youth in state custody. But what does it take to be a good foster parent? 

This article was created in collaboration with former and current youth in foster care who currently participate in our Youth Educational Success (YES) program. Together, we created a list of the top six characteristics that every foster parent should have.

Foster Parents Should ...

This article was created in collaboration with former and current youth in foster care who currently participate in our Youth Educational Success (YES) program. Together, we created a list of the top six characteristics that every foster parent should have.

Be understanding. 

Youth in state custody enter care for a variety of reasons. It’s important for foster parents to understand that each youth’s history, past trauma and background is different, and that it’s not always possible to have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to parenting. Additionally, it’s important for parents to understand that completing educational goals might be challenging. Each time a youth in foster care moves homes or schools this makes it increasingly harder for them to stay on track with their educational goals. On average, each move will lose six months of educational progress, and this can begin to affect their self-esteem and confidence at school and at home.

Be approachable.

Youth in foster care have lived with a lot of uncertainty. It’s important for foster parents to be approachable, so when questions or concerns arise they have someone who they can safely turn to for guidance, support or even just to have someone listen. Additionally, being able to listen without judgement can be hard, but will go a long way in building trust between you and your foster child. 


Have time.

It’s easy to get caught up in work, keeping the house clean and juggling appointments, but it’s also important to understand the need for quality time together. Being able to give undivided time is a good way to earn their trust. Spending time together doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, it could be finding a hobby together and setting aside one hour a week to work on it, or even going on a walk together in the evenings. 


Be willing to teach. 

When you were a child do you remember some of the things your parents taught you? Without guidance, we might not have ever learned how to ride a bike, balance a checkbook or even cook. The same is true for youth in foster care. They look to their foster parents to help them learn the things that will make independent adults later in life. 

Be ready to advocate.

Being able to advocate is a characteristic that any parent should embody. For foster parents, this could mean advocating for the youth in your care during court appointments, and speaking up for them at school or with their caseworkers, as well as speaking up if your family needs additional support and resources. Recognize “normal” teenage behavior and not label it as “out of control”. 

Accept me as your own.

This one is pretty important. Nobody wants to feel like an outsider. This could mean being able and willing to attend school events, help with homework or even driving them to and from sports practice. As a foster parent, it’s essential that you treat the youth in your care like you’d treat your biological children, with respect, dignity and hope for a strong and independent future. 

Do you think you have what it takes to become a good foster parent? We have a critical need for foster families who are willing to accept sibling groups and older youth into their homes.

You can learn more about becoming a foster parent, or give us a call at 855-SRV-KIDS to speak directly to a team member.