Parenting any child, biological or otherwise, takes patience, love, and commitment. However, foster parenting can be a bit more challenging and require an extra effort to exhibit each of these qualities at times. Foster children have frequently undergone conditions of abuse and neglect, and often show signs of the negative effects it has had on them. Beyond providing food and shelter, there are many ways to change this around and effectively influence the life of a foster child for the better.

Whether it’s simply lending a supportive shoulder to cry on or opening up your home to foster adopt, foster parents will find that the following actions make the most positive impact on children in the foster care system.

Offer a Listening Ear

Many foster children need the services of a professional therapist to help them process what they are going through, but they should always feel comfortable enough going to their foster parents as well to share feelings of both happiness and concern. It seems like a simple task, but taking time out of your busy schedule to just sit down with your foster child and listen to what they have to say about their day can make a world of difference for them in knowing someone cares.

Provide a Routine

Children need structure and stability to help promote the growth of healthy relationships and an overall well-adjusted life. Sticking to basic daily routines that involve things such as mealtimes, bedtimes, quality time, etc., can go a long way in supplying the consistency a foster child has most likely lacked with their biological family.

Get Involved in Schoolwork and Encourage Interests

Showing you care about their successes in school and other various interests, gives a foster child the encouragement they often need to do well and excel in their development. Nurturing them and getting involved in these areas gives vital support for accomplishing future goals.

Maintain Boundaries and Don’t Be Afraid to Discipline

Foster children may come with behavioral problems after all the hardships they’ve experienced. It’s important for foster parents to find a way to appropriately discipline and set limits while still showing love and respect for the child during tougher times. With discipline should come praise and recognition of good behavior as well.

Work With the Biological Family and Child Welfare Agency

It can be difficult for loving foster parents to understand the actions of other parents, but it is crucial to work cooperatively with the biological family and child welfare advocates in order to make certain the child’s needs are being fully met and they are receiving the best possible care from all parties involved. Allow child welfare agencies to be a form of support for your role as a foster parent, take the steps necessary to cultivate constructive visitations with biological parents, and do your best to uphold neutral feelings towards them no matter the situation.

Be Open to Foster Adoption

Choosing to foster adopt is one of the most significant actions you can take in a foster child’s life. There are times when reuniting a child with their biological parents is no longer an option and they are left to navigate through the foster care system, hoping one day they will have somewhere permanent to call home again. Adoption can give them a renewed perspective on life.

Every child deserves to have adults to look up to and rely on. Whether you foster adopt or make a commitment to being the type of foster parent that provides a home exhibiting each of these characteristics, you are making a positive influence in the life of a child.

This article was originally published at

Author's Bio: 

Mike Logan is the founder and CEO of Children First Foster Family Agency in northern California.