A common question asked by prospective foster families as they begin the fostering process is “Why go through an agency? Why not just go through DHS?” That is a good question to ask when familiarizing yourself with the world of foster care. Both entities, the Department of Human Services and agencies, provide levels of support for foster families and assist families in serving the most vulnerable. But there are a few ways in which agencies stand out that need to be discussed. Reagan, a Care Specialist at Anna’s House, breaks down the benefit of fostering through an agency vs through the Department of Human Services!
Investment – The role of an agency is to assist foster families in their fostering journey, through many different avenues. One of those avenues is investment – investment in foster parents, investment in their family unit as a whole, and investment in the child placed in their home. Anna’s House Foundation works hard to foster relationships with all members of the family. By investing in the lives of our families, a new bond and a deeper level of trust is created, which allows agencies to serve in the best way they possibly can. This also creates an environment conducive to community and growth between fellow foster families. Often, the biggest support a foster parent can have comes from someone going through the same thing. An agency naturally creates this community and allows fellow foster parents to invest in and support each other. Anna’s House strives to generate this community through monthly support groups and agency-wide events.
Support – Support, in any form, is crucial when caring for a child, especially a child who is living in a home away from their parents and is trying to reconcile past trauma. This support, in general, can come in many forms, ranging from financial support to just having a friend to talk to. The Department of Human Services does provide many avenues of support, from financial and material assistance to additional family services to help both the child and the foster family succeed as everyone works toward reunification. The role of an agency is to fill in the gaps of support. Anna’s House, for instance, has a resource room available for families to get clothes, gift cards, school supplies, and toys. We also fulfill all of our foster children’s Christmas wish lists, and provide Parent Night Out events. But beyond the material support lies the emotional support.
I think my favorite part of the role that I play is being able to sit with my families in both times of sorrow and rejoicing. I have had countless days of stepping alongside a family and praising a child for learning a new skill or making progress in any aspect of life. I have also had countless days of weeping with foster families and standing by their side as they experience heartbreak or when they just have a bad day. Agencies are here to be a listening ear and to walk with families in both the good and bad times.
Advocacy – All too often, the foster parents’ wishes or needs can be overlooked within the large team of people working together to create a safe environment for a child. It may seem like foster parents’ voices are not being heard, or their needs are not being met. An agency is there to step in between the foster family and the rest of the professional team, allowing them to have a louder and stronger voice. This is done through frequent contact with DHS workers, attending court hearings, and attending family team meetings. It is important to know that the care takers of the children we are working so hard for are also taken care of, because in the end, everyone has the child’s best interest in mind.
While any way to serve in the foster care community is great, whether that be through the Department of Human Services or through an agency, it is important to be diligent in research and prayer when choosing which avenue you will use. The Anna’s House Foundation is here to provide support through many ways as individuals and families embark on their foster care journey, and ultimately, share God’s love with others.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent through Anna’s House, you can call our office at
(405)509-2055 or visit our website annashousefoundation.org.