When a child is brought into the foster care system (often called “the system”), it is never the child’s fault they are taken into foster care. The current parent or caregiver, for whatever reason, is usually temporarily unable to care for the child. This involves mostly physical needs, although emotional and mental health needs are also part of the situation.Every child who enters foster care has experienced trauma. That absolutely must be taken into account when contemplating becoming a foster parent. In most cases, the goal is reuniting child and parent. In all cases, it takes a team of professionals to make that happen. You as a foster parent are a crucial member of the team.Some of the reasons for why you might want to become a foster parent are:
You have the power to change a young person’s life for the better
Kids who are in the foster care system usually have had a chaotic family background up to this point. The right foster family can provide consistency, stability, and above all, safety that the child so sorely needs.
If you have an only child, fostering provides a sibling experience
Only children have many advantages growing up (the undivided attention of both parents, not having to share anything, sole heir if anything happens, etc.), but can feel handicapped by being alone as a child. A foster child can act as a brother or sister to an only child, providing a richness of sibling experience that would be almost impossible to get any other way.
Fostering gives you a chance to be consciously therapeutic
Ideally speaking, you need to be willing to take in any child of any age who needs a temporary home. You always have a say, however, in what ages you prefer to work with. If you relate more to one particular age group than another, those are the children who will be presented to you first.
Fostering teaches you to be even more flexible
Foster kids are just like “regular” kids, only more so. Foster kids, especially the older ones (usually ages 10 – 16) test limits. Acting-out behaviors are actually backhanded compliments; they are expressing themselves honestly, instead of being on their best behavior all the time. Your sense of humor will go a long way toward seeing you through this phase.
Becoming a foster parent has some financial compensation
The government provides all children in foster care with medical insurance. There is also a monthly stipend to help with living expenses, although this should never be the main reason for deciding to foster.
Being a foster parent gives you a chance to learn if you really are cut out to be a parent
Sometimes, if you are really in doubt about being a parent, it might be good to take a child into your home to see how you do with the whole idea. However, please be aware that many children in the system have experienced significant trauma. it is truly a different experience bringing a child of trauma into your home. The experience with those children are often intense, exhausting, overwhelming as the trauma may be emotional, physical, sexual etc.
The next steps
Every state has different rules and requirements, but all 50 of them need high quality, caring adults to open their homes, even on a temporary basis, to kids, who, through no fault of their own, need somewhere and someone safe to stay with for a while. If they’re lucky, it might be with you.
Live in Arizona? Start here.
Live in Oregon? Start here.
Live in Utah? Start here.