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Pay it Forward: Importance of foster parents during National Foster Care Month

(Iowa's News Now).
(Iowa's News Now).
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Haley and Travis Slifka are no strangers to having kids around the house, having multiple under their roof. Two of which are foster kids.

The Slifka’s say the addition of their first foster child was an easy one, with their own biological children excited about the idea.

"Our kids absolutely love it," said Haley. "They thought it was the coolest thing to have an older sister join the family."

Haley says she believes bringing in a foster child has benefits for everyone in the household.

"They're exposed to a lot of things that other kids aren't exposed to," she said. "They know a lot of things that other kids have gone through, and to me, I think that just makes them more well-rounded human beings."

Travis added that often there’s a stigma to older foster kids, but bringing them in gives them a chance to be finally be themselves.

"When you got older kids that are pretty much parents taking care of their younger siblings, or their older ones, they’ve never been able to be a kid," said Travis. So when they show up and have parents in the household, they're actually allowed to be a kid. You see them change, and it's pretty nice."

"But what they really need is just love," said Haley. "It's amazing the difference it makes in their lives when they come from an unstable household, they can flourish pretty easily."

The Slifka’s worked with Four Oaks Family and Children Services in bringing in their foster kids, a process fine-tuned through caseworkers and cooperation.

"When we start those calls, we already have an idea of what will be a good fit," said Tonya Watters, a recruiter for Four Oaks. "Folks can also set some preferences; If you think your niche is working with teenagers to become an independent adult, we’ll gear those matching calls to teenagers."

Watters adds the benefit of parenting older children in the foster care system as well.

"I think the huge benefit of parenting older kids even older than the age of 11, is that they’re much more communicative they can tell you what's going on and less likely to behave in those behaviors that a younger child would

Watters says parenting teens in foster care can be very rewarding, something the Slifka's know firsthand.

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