To quote Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tse, “If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn.”
In terms of foster parent training, the purpose is to learn how to provide the best care possible for children that enter into your home. It is no doubt important to be as prepared as you can be so the child in your care has everything he needs to be happy and healthy. That basic principle of knowledge in foster care was as true in the 1980s as it is today. The mode in which training is provided, however, has progressed over the decades. We are going to take a look back at how FAFS provided foster parent training in the 1980s.
Foster Parent Training in the 1980s – Face-to Face Training by Foster Parents, for Foster Parents
Picture the 1980s. Even though it was only about 30 years ago it can seem like a different world. The overall culture of that decade was much slower than the fast paced technological world we know today. Before there was Facebook, interaction involved seeing another person’s face, and the only book available was most likely through the local library. Without internet as an option at the time, people had to actually make more of an effort to not only interact with one another on a more personal level but also to access information. There were a lot more women who were stay-at-home moms, so when there was an opportunity to leave the home it seemed more appealing – an escape from the norm of house chores and taking care of the immediate needs of the children. Nowadays, gone are the times of walking to a neighbor’s home and sitting down for a cup of coffee or tea and catching up on the issues of day-to-day life. All you have to do now is check the latest status updates of friends or family members to know how they’re doing – it’s all about quick convenience.
Since the culture was more face-to-face in the 1980s, one could understand how the primary and most effective mode of educating foster parents was County-Based Training (CBT). Employees of the New Jersey Foster Parents Association (NJFPA, now Foster and Adoptive Family Services aka FAFS) worked part-time and were foster parents themselves. This was imperative to the success of the training as they were able to relate to and address specific needs of other foster parents. The trainers would meet at a central location within a specific county, and topics relevant to foster care were discussed. At this time training was not mandatory. Foster parents were motivated to take the training so they could acquire knowledge to use in their homes.
Foster Parent Training in the 1980s – Meeting the Needs of the Community
It was important to ensure the information being dispensed was relevant, useful and met the needs of the foster care community. Speaking directly with foster parents helped to determine not only the kinds of courses that were provided by the NJFPA, but also determined the way the courses were delivered. That proudly still rings true to this day. Even though the delivery of training has progressed in a more technological form, CBT is still available in counties throughout New Jersey.
As we move into the 1990s, you will see how much training progressed in just ten years via the different styles and methods that were utilized. Stayed tuned.