Meet Family Works Foster Parent Heather! Heather is a single foster mother in the Eau Claire area. She and her family have been in the “kid business” for some time.
There Were Always Children Around…
Heather shares that her family has been helping children and young people for as long as she can remember. There were always children around. Her mom ran a daycare for many years. When Heather was older, she became a trusted babysitter in her neighborhood. Her family also became a host family for international students. Later they became “Friends of International Students” in which they had UW Stout international students over the holidays and weekends.
A Career Is Shaped…
With all of these childhood experiences, it’s probably not a surprise that Heather found herself drawn to education and children. She became a special needs paraeducator at the elementary school level, working with students with special education needs. She has worked with children with multiple special education needs over the years. She also takes pride in having helped her sister raise her nephew with special needs. Heather shares, “I have a heart for kids–it’s my Zen place.”
Could I Help More?….
This heart and Zen space led Heather to wonder if she could be a foster parent. However, as a single person she wondered how she could work two jobs and care for children in her home. She knew she had a solid background in education as well as life experiences and a patient and calm demeanor, but still she had doubts. Things changed when her mom moved into her home. This allowed her to quit her second job. She now felt she had more support in her life, enough to consider becoming a foster parent. Heather became a foster parent with her local county for a year but was intrigued by the support a private treatment foster care agency like Family Works could offer.
Family Works Is Always There!
Heather became licensed with Family Works and dove into foster care. She acknowledges that things haven’t always gone easily and there have been some tough situations. She is so grateful that Family Works does such a great job of providing support to their foster parents.
“Someone has always shown up to help…I appreciate being able to call for extra support …even on nights and weekends.” Sometimes she finds just having someone to talk things through is just what is needed.
The Family That Plays Together…
Heather has created a family environment that thrives on caring, supporting and playing together. Her mother has become “grandmother” to her foster children, and they all enjoy playing board games, gardening, biking and walking and visiting family members. Heather and her family particularly enjoy summer breaks. They love going to visit and help her grandfather who lives alone and has vision problems. They help him with his garden a couple times a week. As he lives on a lake, they also enjoy kayaking and inner tubing.
Heather is also very involved in her church and volunteers every Sunday at her church nursery. She has found that her foster children love helping with the younger children and her youngest foster children enjoy the Sunday school programming.
Family Works Social Worker Lisa Fellenz-Freeland shared,
“Heather does such a wonderful job providing a stable and structured environment for the children in her home. Heather is consistent with rules and boundaries, but also with the love and support she has shown each child in her home. It is because of these things that children thrive in Heather’s home under her care.”
Lessons Learned and Advice to Share
Heather knows she has learned much in her time as a treatment foster parent. “Be flexible. Be willing to try new things. Also know your own boundaries and where your strengths lie.” After working with a few foster youth, Heather came to realize that she works better with younger girls. She feels that because she doesn’t have a strong male role model in her home, boys don’t do as well in her home.
“It is a learning process. You have to learn your boundaries and how to ask for help as well as to say this isn’t working.” She feels these are not bad things but necessary things at times to help children get what they need.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent, please reach out to us anytime!