With roughly 400,000 children in the United States foster care system, the need to educate and recruit the public to assist in what sometimes seems like an insurmountable feat has become imperative. Many people have a perception or even an opinion about foster care without knowing all the facts. Let’s dive into the key components everyone should know about foster care.
1. More Foster Parents are Needed
The shortage of people volunteering to become a foster parent leaves less and less availability for these children to find safe and reliable homes. The value of having stability in a child’s life brings peace of mind to not only the children, but also to their family members. Becoming a foster parent is a commitment to offering a temporary home and a forever love.
Before any papers are signed or applications completed, educating yourself on the foster care system, how it works, what can you expect, and how to best serve the needs of these children experiencing some type of trauma in their life will be the best preparation to becoming a foster parent. Your state’s foster care programs will offer free training to those adults who are seeking information about the foster care system and how to become a part of it. If you are looking for a training or informational meeting, you can call your local foster care offices and ask for a schedule. You can also host a meeting place at your church or school or place of business. Invite the foster care office to have a training and educational consult and invite people to come and learn more about fostering and how to get involved.
2. Foster Parents are Thoroughly Screened
When you have started the process, you will find out what your state requires to become a foster parent. A few requirements are consistent between the states. For example, in most states, the minimum age limit to become a foster parent is 21 years old. Everyone in your household must pass a criminal background check that includes any domestic disputes, abuse, or neglect. You and your family must also complete a home study and be approved to move on to the next steps.
In the training you must attend, you will learn if you will receive a reimbursement and clothing allowances while the child(ren) are residing with you. Your training will include necessary knowledge and support for meeting the needs of children in traumatic situations such as the ones the foster children have faced before coming to live with you.
3. The Goal of Foster Care is Reunification
Understanding the goal of foster care will also be part of the educational discussion because as a foster parent, your ultimate objective would be to provide a safe and temporary home until the family is rehabilitated and the child(ren) can be returned to their home. The timeline for each case is unknown, but learning the time and commitment it takes to form this relationship will be valuable when considering the pledge you are making to a child.
There are situations where families of foster children are not able to be rehabilitated or choose not to comply with what the courts have mandated, and in those cases, the children become available for permanent adoption. As a foster parent, you would be one of the first to be considered for the option to adopt. Also, with the foster to adopt possibility, adoption fees are considerably lower, if there are any at all, when compared to domestic or international adoptions through an agency.
Whether a foster situation turns to an adoption or if your family blesses a child and then another and another for temporary cases, you will experience a helpful community of supporters in the foster care system. Learning from them and gaining support will be a priceless measure when entering the world of foster care.