Foster Care Support Group: Stepping Back to See In

A long-haired boy stares at the camera.

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

“Oh, nothing going in my house, just the usual.  I don’t need to take up everyone’s time,” she said.  Her voice was upbeat.

As a Homefinder, it often surprises the families when I know about the goings on in their households. 

“I think you’ve got something pretty big coming up…Aren’t you taking guardianship of Big C?”

“Oh, that…Yep, that is coming up.  But it’s no big thing,” she deflects.  Foster parents so often shy away from the spotlight.

“How is he doing?  He’s got to be thinking about what he’ll do after graduation.  He’s a junior, right?”

“Oh, we’ve been visiting schools.  We always make the rounds.  Nothing crazy.  We went to MIT, UMass Amherst, Bridgewater State…” She rattles off at least half-a-dozen more schools, all over the state, some hours away from her town.

“He doesn’t know what he’s doing after he graduates, but he’ll get there.  H did,” she notes, referring to a former foster youth. 

“You keep in touch with H?”  H left her home after some really challenging behavior despite significant efforts to get through it.

“Oh, yeah.  We see him all the time.  We take him out, we call.  He just can’t live with a family, he can’t be that close to people right now, but he loves it like this.  He is all into that coding, he’s in a group for that and he hopes to make it into MIT.  He might get it, too,” she beams.  Her camera is turned off for the support group video conference, but you can hear the pride and love in her voice.

“M, that’s incredible.”

“Well, then I have L…He’s a daddy now, has a little boy of his own.  He comes over almost every week.  He tells me he wants the baby to know me just like he does, that I’m the grandma.  I didn’t ask, I don’t push, that’s just what he wants.”

My eyes prickle with tears.  L left her home almost ten years ago.  He was a tough kid, one who pushed the envelope, but M and her family stuck by him through it all.  M used to buy groceries for L’s parents, just to make sure his little sisters had plenty to eat.

“He says I’m the only one he trusts to take the baby to the park.  The baby’s three, but I’m the only one aside from him and his girlfriend who is allowed to watch the baby.  He gives me a run for my money, just like L!”

“I’m so glad he has you, M.”

“Oh, it’s nothing special.  It’s just being there for them, you know?  That’s all.  I try to get them through high school and then it’s all up to them.  I just keep picking up the phone,” she jokes.

The support group goes on and parents share the joys, the defeats, the fears, the in-betweens.  Living in the thick of it, they so often don’t see the resilience they’ve allowed to grow, the bonds they’ve created.  They are too close to it.  Sometimes, support group is about being an outsider who gets to see in and stare in awe. 

These are the moments that remind me of why I love my job.  To M and all the others, thank you for sharing your hearts.


If you hope to be like M, reach out today and begin your foster care journey.


JRI Service Navigator

Do you have a question about JRI services?

Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.