Foster parents log on for training
- By Nicholas Morehead
- Jun 18, 2001
Washington is using the Web to create electronic classrooms for foster parents
across the state.
The State's Department of Social and Health Services (www.wa.gov/dshs)
is launching a series of virtual classes to help foster families deal with
the concerns they face when caring for children with special needs.
DSHS, in conjunction with the Department of Information Services (www.state.wa.us/dis), has chosen 23 sites to conduct weekly lessons covering
topics such as behavioral modification, fetal alcohol syndrome and infant
The sites will be made into computer-equipped classrooms where parents without
computers can attend the classes. Lessons from an instructor will be broadcast
live on a central screen, and parents will be able to interact through the
computers in the classrooms.
Participants can pose questions directly by e-mail and participate in discussions
with an expert moderator contracted by the state. Lessons will be broadcast
via satellite for simulcast on the Web (www.wa.gov/dshs/fosterparents),
enabling foster parents who have Internet access to attend classes, virtually,
"What's really great about this program is not only that the foster parents
are able to interact with the experts but also with each other," said Renee
Klosterman, multimedia production manager for the DIS. "At the previous
class on fetal alcohol syndrome, we had parents asking questions and sharing
experiences with each other in real time during the class."
Carolyn Morrison, program manager for the DSHS, said foster parents are
required to undergo some general training, but the classes aren't mandatory.
"This was just one more way to remove barriers to crucial training for foster
parents," Morrison said. "This is one of those cases where knowledge truly
is power, and if we can help share this information, then the better it
is for everyone involved in the foster care process."
Space in the workshops is limited and held to a first-come/first-served
basis, but the classes are free for foster parents. Lessons will be archived
for those not able to attend the classes.