Meet Board of Child Care’s Certified Treatment Foster Care (TFC ) Parent, Mr. Santiago.
Like so many before him, Alfredo Santiago says becoming a Treatment Foster Care (TFC) Parent was a natural fit.
“I come from a very large, extended family,” says the native of New Jersey who’s been living and working in Baltimore for 20 years. “So having an extended family made sense to me.”
What makes his experience seem out of the ordinary — extraordinary, really — is that Alfredo is single and decided to become a foster parent for the first time about two years ago. And his first foster child? A sixteen-year-old boy named Marvin.
He saw the sign Alfredo says that, because he’s served for decades as a clinical social worker, primarily focusing on child welfare, he’s used to being around teenagers. So, in some ways, the adjustment to instant fatherhood wasn’t too difficult.
What was more surprising was the way he was inspired to become a foster parent in the first place. “I saw a billboard sign that said, ‘You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a parent,’” he says. “It just kind of confirmed for me that, you know what, I should act on this feeling instead of just thinking about it.”
“And she said, ‘No, it’s for Marvin. It’s his favorite dish, so I made it for him.’ I was like, ‘Wow, I’m sharing Mom with somebody else.’” –He’s definitely my family– Alfredo adds that becoming a TFC parent has taught him a lot about what it means to be a parent.
For example, it’s very different being single, he says. “It’s not like a divorced parent, where you can still count on the other parent to support you,” he says. “I don’t have
that. But we do have each other and, together we figure out how to get things done.” Perhaps that’s the biggest lesson, he says.
“Like the billboard says, don’t limit what you believe about a family,” Alfredo states. “I’m a happy person, and I feel like having Marvin in my home has added to that happiness. He’s definitely my family.”
To learn more about the small steps you can take today to become a Board of Child Care Certified Treatment Foster Care Parent click here.