Starting a family is a fantastic part of any adult life. But sometimes the conditions aren’t right for raising a child. Substance abuse, unstable finances, homelessness, or physical abuse are some reasons why a child shouldn’t remain in their home.
According to Children’s Rights.org, each day, nearly 443,000 U.S. children are in foster care. By the end of 2017, 690,000 had been in foster care.
Spending time in foster care can be a blessing and a burden for the kids and a memorable experience for the people opening up their hearts and homes.
But fostering a child is a big responsibility. It requires all the things raising a biological child would need, but there’s also much more.
If you’ve considered becoming a foster parent, then you should review the five necessities of doing this job.
What is Foster Care?
According to Child Welfare.gov, “Foster care (also known as out-of-home care) is a temporary service provided by States for children who cannot live with their families.” The children within the system live with biological relatives or foster parents.
Foster care isn’t only private homes; it also includes group homes, emergency shelters, residential homes, and supervised housing.
To become a foster parent, a person must meet the requirements for that state or organization.
What is Needed For Fostering a Child?
Fostering children can be a challenging but rewarding experience. But not everyone should be a foster parent. Even if your intentions are genuine, allowing someone else’s kid into your home could be emotionally and physically draining.
Before deciding to foster a child, it’s crucial to understand the commitment you’re needed.
1. Do You Have Patience?
Anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent should ask themselves, “Am I patient?” Because you’re dealing with children who might have been their parents punching bag or afterthought, you may not receive the thanks you want to get, according to Very Well Family.
Many times children removed from their home are angry, frustrated, sad, and resentful. Their expectations of a house may clash with yours. So being in a new home with a stranger who gives them attention and kindness may be foreign to them.
Depending on the age of the child, an older child may attempt to run away or cause drama because they don’t want to be there.
Remember, these children bring a lot of emotional baggage with them. Be prepared to help them deal with it and heal.
2. Can You Handle Children with Behavioral Issues?
Children in foster care can have behavioral or mental health issues like any other child. The symptoms of these disorders could include violent outbursts, arguing, kicking, hitting, cursing, pushing, etc.
Not everyone can handle this type of discourse in their homes. Although you may want to help these children having a kid who steals and always lies isn’t for everyone.
But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, the child could improve over time.
3. Are You Comfortable with Home Visits?
Foster children come with case managers who check their progress in your care. Case managers may need to conduct in-home visits at least once a month. Depending on the circumstances, there could be multiple visits per month.
Are you comfortable having a representative of the state or an organization coming into your house and asking personal questions? If you have other people living in the home, they will probably get interviewed as well.
The home visits are for the best interest of the child, but some people may not want this type of intrusion.
4. What Ages Would You Want to Foster?
When people think of being a foster child, they may not realize their personality is best suited for a child ages 12-18 instead of a newborn or toddler.
Making a list of the ages you would consider fostering is a wise idea before starting the process. One person may like infants because they need around the clock care, but they are easy to track. But someone else could enjoy the benefits of having a teenager because of their independence.
Of course, if you try one age group and find it’s not for you, then talk with the organization that handles your foster children. Communication is essential, so they want to know if their foster parents are unhappy or need help.
5. Are You Prepared To Parent Someone Else’s Child?
If you’re a foster parent with children of your own, you understand that parenting can be challenging at times. But are you ready to try and parent someone else’s kid?
Parenting involves doctor appointments, pick-ups from school when sick, meetings with teachers and counselors, help with driver’s education, studying for exams, home-cooked meals, and much more. All the things you would do for your child, you would do for a foster child too.
But the most significant difference is that this child may not stay with you for the long-term. Having to say good-bye at some point is a reality, so allowing yourself to get attached, knowing the possibility of separation, could happen.
The Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent
To become a foster parent, you must meet the age requirement. The minimum age of a foster parent depends on the state and organization. It can range from 18 to 25 years old.
Then you can receive information and speak with a representative. Many states make you complete training classes before fostering a child. Complete paperwork, which could include giving consent to a background check, references, agreeing to a drug test, medical examinations, and other crucial information.
Background checks get completed on all household occupants. The home will get inspected to ensure it is safe with adequate food and working utilities.
After passing the steps, you may get approved to be a foster parent.
Fostering Is Important
Fostering a child is difficult, but worth the effort. Many children need a right, stable home. If you’re up to the challenge, it’ll make a difference in a deserving child’s life. But if you know, you weren’t cut out to be a foster parent, that’s okay too.
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