“I have a passion for children and the elderly,” she says. “I pray one day that I can open a (group) home…I want to do whatever I can to help out the community.”
Safe Space for Older ChildrenAntoinette has been a foster parent for five years and in that time, she has seen children of various needs, mostly teenagers, come into her home. Antoinette is licensed from ages 0–21, but there’s something different about teenagers, she says. She likes how they can do more – and understand more – than younger children.
With her older children, she has weekly meetings, where the family has a safe space to talk about how they feel. But no one is ever forced to talk. The conversations need to come with time and patience, Antoinette says.
She uses love and encouragement with her children, building trust with them through prayer, listening to their needs, and providing them with a balance of fun and structure.
Supporting Children and ParentsNow licensed in Level 3, also known as Treatment Foster Care, Antoinette says she learned about trauma and mental illness through classes and research. “I think any kid can be changed with love. I think helping the parents too and being patient with them is so important.”
From her experiences, she sees that biological parents also need resources and education. She remembers one biological parent who was especially involved and dedicated. She laughs, saying she would just go ahead and put the parent on a three-way call if the child acted up in school. Want to learn more?
Use this side-by-side comparison to learn how Level 3 (Treatment Foster Care) differs from General Level 2 Foster Care.
All About LoveThough some foster parents like Antoinette just naturally engage the biological parents, others need some guidance. Shared parenting is an expectation and focus at SaintA. Its goal is to surround the child with all the love and resources they need. That’s something that comes naturally for Antoinette.
She says she is a foster parent because she truly loves kids. “I don’t like to call it work because it is something I really enjoy doing,” she says. “I like going to parent teacher conferences and being a soccer mom.” This flexibility and level of involvement is another reason she fosters teens. She encourages them to call her when they have a bad day and says some of the kids still come by in the summer.
Antoinette has observed that social media and technology has a huge effect on this generation and makes parenting even harder. She says that sometimes children act out, or different cultures create misunderstandings, but she always goes back to the importance of love.
“They’re hurting on the inside and they need someone to love them and to trust them.”