More than 407,000 children and youth are currently in foster care in the U.S.
The extendedReach team is a passionate group of industry experts, and we are excited to share a little more about them. As a customer, if you have met with our Customer Experience team, there’s a good chance you’ve met Shane.
Warm, kind, and committed to helping customers and his team, today we spotlight another side of Shane- Foster Dad.
Shane, how long have you been a foster parent?
I've been a foster parent on and off for 20 years. My first placement (whom I adopted) was a boy that was originally on my caseload with Omni Visions.
He was almost 13 at the time he came to live with me (20 years ago this month) and he'll soon be 33. He was the first of 10 total that I've fostered for varying periods of time. 3 of those I adopted.
What motivated you to become a foster parent?
I have a heart for this work. For those who share that, they know that eventually there is a desire to do more - to be more involved.
After moving into administrative roles and feeling disconnected from the real trench work that must be done, I was motivated to become a foster parent. There have been times that I've sworn that I'm done and ready for a break but another opportunity to foster comes along that I just can't pass up. I have always fostered teen boys ranging from 13 to 17 years of age.
What are the top challenges you face as a foster parent?
Being a single foster parent is a challenge for sure. It's not something I'd recommend for everyone! Wondering if you made the right decision, regretting if you think maybe you were too harsh or over-reacted to a situation. Perhaps even feeling like you don't have the energy to give the time and attention needed by some young people.
What is one of your best memories as a foster parent?
There are so many good memories (foster parenting will bring out the best in you - and can bring out the worst in you) that can sometimes be 10 mins apart! I would say categorically, my best memories are when my two oldest graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and the day I held my first grandchild.
For those considering becoming a foster parent, what advice would you share?
For anyone who wants to foster, I'd recommend having a firm, comfortable grasp on who you are as a person and what you want to offer to a foster child and to the team you'll be working with.
From my experience , start by being at least 20 years older than anyone you foster, to give you the perspective you'll need. I'm 19 years older than my oldest and we butted heads a lot early on!
As a foster parent, how does working at extendedReach help you connect with our customers?
I can see both sides of the fence, so to speak. I've worked in the industry and I've been a foster and adoptive parent. My customers appreciate my input and perspective - even when it may be hard to hear. That's what I'm here for!
How does extendedReach support foster care agencies and foster parents?
extendedReach supports foster care agencies and parents because we provide excellent customer service and form strong relationships with customers as a partner in the work they do. Ultimately, the work done by our staff provides the support and consultation that agencies need. We help by providing direction with the experience to help them navigate forward.
Thank you for sharing your story, Shane!
At extendedReach we are proud to have people like Shane as members of our team. If you'd like to learn more about extendedReach and our foster care software, click here.
Shane’s story is part of our efforts to celebrate National Foster Care Month. Each May, we take time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. We use this time to renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the more than 407,000 children and youth in foster care and celebrate those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.