The Foster Parent Toolbox

The Foster Parent Toolbox Edited by Kim Phagan-Hansel The Foster Parenting Toolbox Edited by Kim Phagan-Hansel Emk Press, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0972624466, 464 pages, $29.95 paperback This book will never look the same. Once you start reading it, corners will be turned down and post-it notes will stick out at odd angles. The spine will be cracked where it was laid flat to photocopy that inspirational page to post on the fridge. Like a well-loved teddy bear, this book will show its value. That’s what happens when you bring together more than 100 experienced contributors to write about the complex topic of foster care, kinship care and adoption. “The Foster Parenting Toolbox” is a comprehensive resource that provides 24-hour support from a superior panel of experts. Stories, articles and poems from social workers, caseworkers, foster parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, former foster children, CASAs, therapists, psychologists and lawyers bring together a variety of perspectives from all aspects of the foster care spectrum. A book like this is important because, as a foster parent, it’s easy to become trapped in my own bubble. Standing alone, my own views are reflected back at me until I can’t imagine another perspective. I have the same close circle of support who share my beliefs and may not challenge me as much as they should. “The Foster Parenting Toolbox” reminds me of why I became a foster parent. Reading other foster parents’ stories brought me closer to my original motivation, and the quotes from the foster children reaffirmed my purpose. There is a balance to this book that treats all participants as “experts” and values their perspectives equally. All these writers have come together to help us understand the unimaginable, however painful. It would be difficult (and expensive) to obtain the knowledge and learn the strategies that are shared in this book by professionals. Instead of having to purchase a dozen books on specific topics, or attend numerous training sessions, this one volume has collected the best information and advice available. There are articles about child developmental stages, emotional health, attachment and the effects of abuse. This book also reinforces the importance of adults working together with the same goals: protecting, supporting and nurturing children. Throughout this book, there is a theme of “taking care.” Not only taking care of the foster children, but also caring for birth families and our families, and taking care of ourselves. Caring through discipline and advocacy, hanging on or letting go. Caring enough to have your heart broken, over and over again. Through its writers, this book represents the sum total of hundreds of years of experience and wisdom. The information is essential for all travelers on the foster care journey. From individuals thinking of becoming foster parents to new foster parents to the experienced. From caseworkers to CASAs to GALs to anyone responsible for making decisions about our most vulnerable citizens. The Foster Parenting Toolbox is cleverly laid out in smart chapters that helps the overwhelmed foster parent find that vital piece of advice, reassurance or inspiration quickly. EMK Press and Editor Kim Phagan-Hansel should be congratulated on championing this much-needed and powerful resource. — Review by Veronica Brown

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