Showing posts with label foster parents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foster parents. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Become a Foster Parent

Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent, but weren't sure where to start, or if you would qualify?  National Foster Care Month is the right time to investigate! 

Foster care is the system that aids minors whose home situation is not conducive to the safety and welfare of the child or teen.  Foster care is usually a short term solution for the minor while a permanent placement can be made, which may be back with their family, with a relative, or possibly into adoption beyond relatives.

The care and living arrangements of foster children is usually handled by a government or social-service agency.  Initially, the minor is often placed in an institution or group home, although a private home of a state-certified caregiver (a.k.a. foster parent) is usually sought as the better solution until a permanent arrangement can be made. While foster parenting is not a way to make money, the state usually provides the foster parents a stipend to cover the expenses they may incur. 

Foster Care Month
Source: http://www.fostercaremonth.org/


Calling all potential for foster parents!


The need for more foster parents is great.  More than 380,000 children and youth under 18 in America are in foster care. According to AdoptUSKids.org, about 104,000 children in the nation's foster care systems are ready for adoptive families today. 

For these children, their psychological and emotional needs are often dire, since they frequently come from a family in crisis who is less able to care for the physical and mental health of their children. In spite of this great need for adult nurturing in their lives, FosterCareMonth.org states that more than 26,000 children (mostly at age 18) end up leaving the foster care system each year without ever acquiring a lifelong family.  These young adults enter the world without the nurturing family experiences that prepare them to do well on their own. 

If this tugs on your heart strings, then perhaps it’s time to consider becoming a foster parent.  Your parental love and influence while they are minors can make a lifetime of betterment throughout their lives. 

Foster parent with child


What could disqualify me from being a foster parent?


Not sure if you can qualify?  Each state’s rules vary as to what qualifies or prevents you from being considered for foster parenting.  But the reality is that more children need temporary care than the current supply of foster parents can help, and the option of returning to their natural parents may be a dangerous option. 

Qualifying for foster parenting usually involves the following:
  • Your state will want to be sure you want to help children.  Many of their questions and analysis start here.
  • You must have adequate time and living quarters to accommodate a foster child.  A background check, foster care home inspection, and a personal foster parenting interview will determine this.
What will not prevent you from becoming a foster parent is your marital status, your age (except that you must be at least 21), your race, your religion, or whether or not you work outside the home.


How do I get started in foster care?


The first step: complete an application.  The state or foster care agency will require you to agree to a background check, a home inspection, and a personal interview.  During this process, they will determine if you meet all licensing requirements specific to your state or region.

To locate foster parent information in your state, download and review the  Contact Information for Foster Care Inquiries guide, published by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connection.


How to get involved in National Foster Care Month


Foster parent with child
To find out how you can make a difference in the lives of foster children during May, National Foster Care Month, visit www.fostercaremonth.org. Even if you are not in a position to be a foster or adoptive parent, the foster care system is always in need of mentors (How do I become a mentor?) and volunteers (to find out how to become a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), visit the CASA website). 

And everyone can help spread the word among their friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers about the often urgent needs of the nearly 400 thousand children under age 18 in the foster care system.  To make a difference this very month, download the Foster Care Month toolkit supplies, including brochures, posters, promotional graphics, and other digital materials.

You may have heard that there has been a decrease in the total number of children in foster care in recent years, likely due to an upswing in foster care advocates and support groups in. However, remember the statistics shown above; clearly much more foster care help is needed.  This month, consider investigating becoming a foster parent, or encourage foster parenting to others who may be well-suited for this. 
 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer