How to become a foster parent

Trying to make the decision to foster a child is certainly a “Big One” and one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.  If you are contemplating making this initial step, there are many questions that may come to mind.  Where do I start?  What qualifies me to become a foster parent? Do I need to be wealthy, own my own home or be a young stay at home Mom?  Am I good enough to foster a child? These are just a sampling of questions that may come to mind when you are considering this worthwhile endeavor.

Who can be a foster Parent?

Adopt US Kids states that these several of the characteristics needed to be a good foster parent.

  • Able to work well and as a team with your family as well as with your assigned child’s caseworker
  • Stable, flexible, mature and dependable adult that enjoys being around children
  • Open, loving and caring individual that has the ability to advocate for children

What are the steps to foster a child?

  1. Interest and deciding to foster is of course the first step in the process.  But make sure you do your home work before you make this decision.  Get on line and do some background work, talk to other foster parents and most off all get on the same page with your own family.  You don’t want to start this process unless your entire family is on board.
  2. Apply to become a foster parent – this is where you will apply to your local agency, fill  out your application, and complete the required training needed to become a foster parent.
  3. Complete Home Study – at this point you will meet your caseworker in your home to determine if you are a good candidate to become a foster parent.
  4. Approval – this is the step in the process when your home study is completed and all your background checks are done.
  5. Receive a foster placement – At this point in the process a child or sibling group is placed in your care.
  6. Training – You are never alone as a foster parent.  There is always support through area resources such as your caseworker and other foster families, just name a few.

Some Common Myths About Foster Care (according to Adopt US Kids)

Myth #1 – You are not allowed to adopt a foster child.

Answer – Even though more than half of all children are returned to their birth families, there are still thousands of foster children that will become eligible for adoption by their foster families.

Myth #2 – If I foster a child or children, each child needs to have their own room.

Answer – Basically each child needs to have their own bed, not their own room.  In some instances, there may be some state regulations that come into play in this area.  Such as,  a child to square feet requirements that need to be met or consideration for children of the opposite sex if the children are typically over the age of six.  Also, families may need to take certain behavior issues into consideration when making sleep arrangements for foster children.  But don’t forget your not alone, you will have support to assist you in making these appropriate decisions.

Myth #3 – I need to be a stay at home parent.

Answer – The reality is that in this day and age most families need to work to cover daily living expenses and this is no different for foster families.  You are allowed to work full time outside the home and you do not need to be a stay at home parent in order to be considered a good foster placement.  You will be responsible with finding a quality child care for each child.

Myth #4 – Foster parents do not receive any support from the state.

Answer – This statement is not true.  Foster families are eligible to receive reimbursement to cover the cost for daily living expenses such as, food, clothing, dental and medical expenses and needed counseling services which are all covered by Medicaid.

Additional Resources for Being a Foster Parent (taken from the Adopt US Kids website)

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