What Is Foster Parenting?Lydia Cockrell
What Is Foster Parenting?
Foster parenting occurs when a person or couple decides to open their home to children in foster care. Because foster care is ideally a temporary arrangement, foster parents are not permanent guardians of the children in their care. Rather, they provide support as children transition through difficult and often traumatic circumstances. Foster parents are key players in the foster care system and offer crucial support, security, and stability for children in foster care.
In the US, there is an urgent need for foster parents; more than 420,000 children are currently in foster care, with many more placed in the foster care system each year. The need for foster parents goes beyond a numbers game, however, as trends highlight the gaps in foster families. In particular, the American foster care system is in need of:
- Foster parents who are able to care for teenagers
- Foster homes that will accept sibling groups
- Diverse foster families
Foster parents are usually supported by a monthly stipend to help offset the costs of additional children in the household. They also typically have access to essential community support and resources.
Foster Parent Requirements
The foster care system is intended to provide safe and nurturing places for children who cannot stay with their families. Because of this, various requirements exist to ensure that prospective foster parents and their households are up to the task.
The Children’s Bureau reports that “Laws and policies for licensing or approving family foster homes vary considerably from State to State. These standards reduce predictable risks to the health, safety, and well-being of children in out-of-home care.” These requirements may necessitate training and look at qualifications such as:
- Family income
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Possession of a driver’s license and reliable transportation
- Safe home environments
- Adequate space
As far as what disqualifies you from being a foster parent, those determinations can also vary by state. On a nationwide level, however, you cannot become a foster parent if you or a member of your household has a record of violent crimes, child abuse, or neglect.
Foster Parenting Tips
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, here are a few tips to help you get started with fostering:
- Be patient with the children in your care. They have likely faced trauma and may be experiencing mental health issues. Give them space and time to open up if and when they are comfortable.
- Look for ways to support your foster child’s cultural connections. This can be a great way to help them adjust to feelings of displacement and isolation.
- Find community support as soon as possible; you’ll need it!
- Establish a fun routine to instill a sense of normalcy and stability.
Here at For Others, we’re a collective of change-makers working together to address the crisis plaguing our nation’s most vulnerable. Join us in the fight to solve the foster care crisis, and donate today to help restore lives!