Just to clarify- these are not "classes" in the typical sense. This is what our "MAPP/GPS" course title stands for:
Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting / Group Preparation & Selection
What does that mean? It means that we don't automatically get certified because we attended the class. We're supposed to get as much information- as much hard truth- as we can from the courses, and then decide whether we're ready for foster care. They "aren't trying to scare you, but..." It's important that we make an informed decision, for the sake of consistency for kids. The social workers absolutely want to weed out anyone who might only last for a couple of weeks, putting a child/children through a whole extra round of adjustments. So, at the same time as we're analyzing our family and making our decision, our trainers are monitoring our homework, responses, and participation to decide whether to select us for foster care.
The class content was neat. There was some helpful information about how to use kids' behaviors to figure out what their needs are and how we can help them cope by using their own strengths. These kids won't be sitting down and explaining their problems; they're going to act out, and we need to be ready to respond in love, and grace, in a way that will help them sort through their hurts and learn how to help themselves. There were some video testimonies from foster parents, foster/adopted kids, and biological parents of fostered children. You can fit a lot of info into a 3-hour session, and we covered a lot.
One of the biggest impacts on me, though, was not the course itself- it was my first glimpse into the building where our class was held. It's the combined Visitation Center and Pediatrician's Office for our county's foster care. Theoretically, we'll be frequenting this building, as we're required to use this pediatrician's office for foster kids (this provides them with awesome consistency and doctors experienced with their situations), and most children will have scheduled visits with their bio parents and possibly even siblings. What amazed me was the level of security at this place. Metal detectors, purse search, card-swipe locks on the stairways and doors... I should have probably expected that (I can imagine all sorts of scenarios where that might be necessary) but I just didn't. Somehow, though, they managed to still make the actual visiting area look kid friendly. I'm pretty impressed with the level of thought the county puts into every. single. decision. for these kids. And this was another heavy reminder about the kinds of situations these kids are facing.