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Tamara Eggert Shares Her Foster Parent Journey

In the United States, there are over 407,000 children in foster care. 34% are placed with relatives, while the other 66% are placed with a family unrelated to their own. For National Foster Care Month, we’re shining a light on Tamara Eggert, our Senior Manager of Engagement here at Calendly, who took the opportunity to provide foster care in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The draw 

Eggert has always had a soft spot for children in the foster care system. She grew up around foster caregivers and children and it made an impact on her. She knew from a young age that it can be a difficult but rewarding opportunity and one where there is a huge need for individuals and families who are open and willing to volunteer as foster caregivers. When she moved to Austin, Texas 8 years ago, she became a certified foster care babysitter to help meet the growing demand from families in her county. By government mandate, all babysitters who choose to care for foster children must be certified. Due to this experience, she felt prepared for foster parenting and knew the importance of supporting and participating in the foster care system.

Kids on the floor 

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a large number of families who lost their homes due to a surge in unemployment. According to the The Bureau of Labor Statistics,

In January 2021, 10.1 million people reported that they had been unable to work because their employer lost business or closed its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Soon after receiving her license to be a foster parent, Eggert got a call from some friends who worked at the NCPS (National Child Protective Services). They had a crisis on their hands and had to make the unfortunate decision of having children sleep on the floor in offices to provide temporary shelter due to the limited number of qualified caregivers who could host the children.

Stepping up 

Eggert knew she had to get involved and help. For her, she believed that every child deserves a loving home, a place to feel safe and cared for, and that drove her to volunteer and become a foster parent. It helped that she had an extra room in her home she had prepared for the possibility of a long term stay. The State of Texas determines who evaluates homes and foster caregivers, and how often they need to make at home visits to ensure all children are being taken care of. This meant that Eggert was not only opening her home up to a child but also to various people from multiple agencies working within the foster care system and the judicial system. Still, Eggert knew the importance and the impact she would be making on a child’s life during such an uncertain and tumultuous time and that far outweighed her privacy. She went through the process to become a foster caregiver and after four months of a thirty-step process filled with training, inspections, background checks and interviews, Eggert officially got her first placement right before what was deemed as the “snowpocalypse” in February 2021.

Calendly saves the day! 

As a single foster mother with a full-time job working at a hyper-growth start-up, work-life balance is difficult to come by. Finding a work environment that supports work-life fit and the ability to support its people in their personal life and passions has been invaluable. Not to mention working for a company whose product is a productivity tool and essentially saves valuable time for its people and customers.

“A month after I started at Calendly, I had a light bulb moment where I was like wait a second, this is what our tool does? I can send [the agencies] a link with my availability each week versus going through the motions of having to go back and forth, checking calendars with ten to twelve different individuals who have to make home visits on a weekly basis? This is amazing!”

Upon her realization, Eggert quickly set up her Calendly dashboard to allow her to schedule her weekly visits from the agencies based on availability around her and her foster child’s daily routines. Additionally, within the foster care system, meetings get rescheduled all the time due to the unpredictable nature of the institution. Calendly provides an excellent and efficient way for parties to quickly update meeting times when last-minute changes occur. This was invaluable for Eggert as she began her foster parent journey while starting a new job. 

“Calendly saved me so much time and headache in what was already a [wild] time”.  

What attracted Eggert to Calendly in the first place was the remote-first work environment. Having to balance going into the office with all the requirements foster care came with proved strenuous for Eggert. The remote-first environment gave her the opportunity to settle into her role as a foster parent without missing a beat at work. She felt fulfilled being able to answer her calling as a foster parent and giving each child the love and support they needed when they entered her home. 

Hardest but proudest moment. 

Just like she observed as a child, the journey has been tough but definitely imperative. Eggert recalls her hardest but proudest moment as the day she reunited her first placement with his biological family. After a bond built over months it was hard having to let go of the child with no expectations to see or hear about him again but it was absolutely worth it. To her, it's so vital for children to grow up around their biological family. She especially loves that her licensing county, Williamson County Texas, is doing a lot of work to help eliminate discrimination within the foster care system, working to help support biological families in staying unified instead of taking the children outside the home. 

“I love when we have that moment when we realize the things that we thought were the right way of doing things aren’t always what’s best and course-correct that. I’m so proud to get to be a part of this county that’s doing things in a way that’s best for everyone involved instead of doing what they think will work.” 

Today, all Eggert’s foster children have been reunited with their biological families and she is supporting other foster families through respite care. 

What can YOU do to honor Foster Care Month? 

This year, to offer assistance you can donate to a foster care pantry or closet (new items only) to help provide resources children need to ease their transition like diapers, clothes for specific age groups, food, school supplies, books, etc. If you have the time, are up for the task and are good with kids, get your foster care babysitter certification! There is a real need for certified sitters on a national scale to support foster caregivers. For most states, the certification requires one class only. If you’d like to get your feet wet and support other families before diving fully into the process of getting your own foster care license, this would be a great way to see if this is a fit for you. For people who are already involved in the system, utilize local swap groups on Facebook - example - for new or used items that are still of great quality like cribs or clothes, outgrown toys, furniture, decor, etc. - all for exchange or free. For other ways to help or donate, please visit the Foster Coalition website for over 30 ways to help children in foster care today. 

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