SBCC Foster and Kinship Care program hosts parents panel


The City College Foster and Kinship Care program hosted a foster parents panel during its training to local foster parents on the night of Friday, Oct. 6.

The program professor, Judy Osterhage led the training at the Santa Barbara Community Church. Osterhage also holds Movie Screenings as a part of her training series.

“The number one goal of foster care is reunification,” Osterhage said.

Foster parents sat at the panel to share their stories in order to offer several lessons to the attending parents. The fostered children of these parents ran around and played games outside with the San Marcos High School Resource Family Association Student Support Team.

Nadia Vazquez and Natalia Valdes of the San Marcos support team explained their purpose being to entertain the kids while their parents were being trained.

Emily Bott, the team’s high school senior president explained what they like to do with the kids during these events.

“When it gets too dark outside, we go inside and do a mini lesson about kind of what they’re learning here and we play little ‘get to know you’ games,” Bott said.

According to Bott, the Support Team goes over a brief overview on foster children trauma when joining. She hopes to attend City College next year and study early childhood education.

The event had ten parents attending with two speakers who told the audience their stories. One speaker described being a foster parent for 14 years and the other speaker told her story about taking in her two biological grandchildren.

Some parents got emotional during the topics discussed.

When talking about the history of the foster care system, Osterhage explained that formalized training the current panel, had not started until the ‘80s.

There was discussion about the connection between foster parents and biological parents. Osterhage explained that you cannot ask in depth questions about the biological parents themselves. Some parents explained that they do have slight relationships with the biological parents.


Parents said that the statistics have shown that kids can become worse after a failed reunification. Reunification is the time period a child in the system goes back to spend with their biological parents. With failed reunions comes what was described as a constant back and forth placement of children.

“Every placement change is trauma,” Osterhage said. “Can you imagine moving that many times?”

One father said, “They should have a steady home.”

Stories were told by attending parents about the struggles they have faced with the lack of consistency. One member explained that she had a foster child for 13 months, but the child had been taken back to her biological mother once the mother started to get back on track. The woman said happily that she does still get to visit her past foster child occasionally.

“I just have to move forward,” the woman said. “I’m so thankful to be here with others sharing their stories.”

“You’re still in their lives,” said Osterhage.

These trainings teach parents how to handle the various qualities of being a foster parent. Several foster children suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder and have faced some form of trauma in their lives. Foster care parents take trauma parenting classes and biological parents are required to take traditional parenting classes.

Osterhage hopes that one day both sides are getting the same form of training.