How To Become A Foster Parent
An Introduction and Overview of Foster Parenting
In today’s society, there is still a need for foster parenting. Despite more family planning services, several children need a loving family through adoption and foster parenting. Foster care focuses on allowing a child to have potentially interim or long term parents and living arrangement. While several individuals that provide the foster care service as a steppingstone for a child, particularly for those children who are in their teenage years, several people become long term parents and will complete the steps needed to legally adopt the child. In either instance, the child is provided a loving home to develop and grow, helping provide them with a more stable foundation on which to build and achieve their future goals and aspirations.
It is important to consider that children might have been removed from their previous home for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, abuse, neglect, or inability to be cared for emotionally, physically, mentally and fiscally. This might require several different skills for the parents in the foster home to be able to make the transition from the biological home to the new home more peaceful and enjoyable for all parties.
Becoming a Foster Parent
The first step to becoming a foster parent is to ensure that you can meet all challenges that might be associated with the process. As stated above, some children might come from a very difficult background and you must be able to provide a loving, caring environment for them to heal and reevaluate the way they view the world. Questions that might assist you in evaluating if you would be interested in becoming a foster parent might include:
– Are you able to handle emotional situations that might arise from a child coming from troubled, neglectful or abusive environment? This might include them acting out, being withdrawn, night terrors, or difficulty acclimating into their new social environment.
– Will you be able to part with the child as this is a temporary arrangement (unless a motion toward adoption is made on your part)? This might mean that you have no further connection with the child unless there is a mutual agreement to do so. Also, would you be able to continue to care for the child even in the instance that you/your partner became pregnant or became eligible to adopt if you were waiting on completion of the adoption process?
– It is very probable that the child might not appreciate your love and affection and will be incapable of returning. Would you be okay to not have as close of a relationship with the child as you might have hoped (this is a very dynamic scale and is extremely variable in any particular case)?
– If the child came from a troubled/abusive home, will you be able to control anger and provide level headed discipline? Will you be able to handle aggressiveness, acts of violence, or acting out by fighting or destructiveness?
– Will you see the child progressing emotionally and in a healthy way an accomplishment? In several cases, these children might have extreme failures and rarely succeed or be commended for their efforts at sports or school due to their emotional and developmental needs being neglected in earlier years.
– Are you willing to open your home and your relationships with others to being evaluated by a social worker? Privacy will severely decrease as the agency overseeing the foster parenting will need to ensure the safety of the child but it is important to note that the social worker is also present to help assist with the needs of the new foster parents.
– Can you forgive and forget, especially early in the process? This will be a progressive experience that can have several peaks and valleys.
After you have decided you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you will also need to ensure that you are financially stable. While states offer financial support, you must be able to provide documentation that you can provide for the needs of your family without any use of the supplemental income. Some locations offer additional support for clothing or baby-sitting needs that may arise.
Additionally, there are other minimum requirements that you must meet to be eligible in becoming a foster parent.
– You must be 21 years or older.
– Enough space must be available in your residence for the foster child to have their own bed and be able to appropriately store their personal possessions.
– Home will be inspected by Social Worker to ensure that it is livable and meets safety and cleanliness standards.
– You cannot have a record of any sort of abuse, drug or alcohol consumption issue. Additionally, this will be further substantiated by a drug screen and a criminal background check.
– Access to financial records and credit reports might be needed to substantiate your claim that you can support your own family. This ensures that any financial aid you may receive will be used solely for the child being fostered.
Additional information of any requirements particular to your geographic region can be provided by a local fostering care center or agency. Several states also require that the individual complete a pre-placement training. This helps ensure that the individual understands firsthand what types of situations might arise from becoming a foster parent. You will be assessed in scenarios where the child acts out, neglects responsibilities, or is withdrawn to see how you can handle and how you react. This can assist the Social Worker in understanding your parenting style and ensure that you can handle a wide array of potential situations.
After a large amount of the red tape has been passed, it is probable that a child will be coming to live with you in your home. If the child is being moved from a safer home in which they could not be provided for, make the transition slow. The move can be spread out over a longer period of time. This will help the family they are leaving and also give the child the opportunity to acclimate to their new environment. Additionally, this can reduce anxiety and acting out as you are being aware of the child’s feelings and you can earn their trust in a measured way. It is also suggested to do a preliminary visit to the new home to get the child’s take on the situation. Is this a construct they could see themselves fitting into? Could they live in the space? Could they follow your rules? This allows both sides to adjust to this life change and understand how to interact, challenge and build a relationship together.
Please use all resources to make the transition and living arrangements as easy as possible. There are several resources, therapists, and social workers available to protect the rights of the foster parents and the child. The interests of one party should never trump those of the other. As long as safety is not jeopardized, there are several people who can help make the transition as easy as possible. Again, it is important to note that the child is being removed from a familiar (howbeit negative) environment. This might lead to acting out and dis-respectfulness that will need to be managed and disciplined appropriately. While there is acting out early in the process, these behaviors might also resurface when the time comes for the child to leave the foster family.
In a good situation, attachments have formed and the child has bonded and acclimated into the family. Copious amounts of love and understanding should be provided to help the child progress and transition into their next home or stage of life. This is an opportunity for you to establish an open door policy in which they can continue to communicate with you. Remembering birthdays or important events, providing memorabilia of their time with you (photo albums, cards, music and stuffed animals), calling, or controlled visits can help the child feel as though they are not being abandoned or unloved. This connection will help the child transition back to their home with their biological parents or to a new foster or adoptive family. It will be reassuring (especially if you have had a positive experience with the child), that just because this chapter of them being physically with you is ending, you will always be there for them. This creates to opportunity for a wonderful mentoring experience for both you and the fostered child well into the future.
Ultimately, becoming a foster parent can be a very rewarding and enriching life experience. A very special bond can be formed between a child and their temporary parent and the life lessons learned in their new home can help the child succeed and reach their goals and life aspirations. Being a foster parent is a long-term investment of time, resources, and love they can be repaid immensely by helping another individual through a trying and troubling point in their life.