There are more than 250,000 kids in foster care in the United States. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many foster kids will stay with their foster parents for much longer than was anticipated when they originally came into care.
Becoming a foster parent is much easier than it sounds and is open to more people than before from various home situations. But unfortunately, only about 4% of Americans are willing to do it because it asks so much from them. However, those who commit reap great rewards from their efforts; not only do they get to help children who need it most, but they also get to build a trusting and caring relationship with them. Therefore, I want to give you as much information as possible to help you before you decide to become a foster parent.
What is Foster Care?
Infants, children, and teens enter foster care because they are in unsafe living situations. Children who are removed from unsafe living situations are placed in foster homes. Their stay can be a few hours, a few days, months, or years, and sometimes the foster home becomes their forever home.
Kids in foster care are currently in the care of a foster parent due to circumstances beyond their control. Foster care intervention is meant to be a short-term solution, not a long-term placement; however, some cases last much longer, and some a lifetime. Foster parents provide a safe home where kids can heal from their trauma and learn how to live again with hope in a safe place.
Why become a foster parent?
There are many reasons to consider becoming a foster parent, but one of the main ones is to save a child's life from imminent harm. Foster parents get to help children who have been abused or neglected. While these children may have their issues, they are also in danger, and the state has the right to intervene. Foster parents get to help these children and can have a family history of being in foster care or be a family who wants to help children. Others take on the role of a foster parent for other reasons, such as helping a child who has been abused but is not in danger of harm. There are many different reasons to become a foster parent. Foster parents get to give these kids a second chance at life. You can save a child's life if you dare to step up and act.
Who can become a foster parent?
You're not alone if you're thinking about becoming a foster parent. Foster parents come with diverse interests and professions from all walks of life. Many are parents themselves and want to help children who don't have a stable home. Some become foster parents to help children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Single people, married or unmarried couples can all become foster parents and need to check with their local Agency for requirements.
The Benefits of Fostering
- Feeling Connected to Your Community: The best part about fostering is your sense of purpose when doing it. You will get to know the children and teens in your community and the foster parents taking care of them.
- You Get to Help Others: Foster parenting is a great way to get involved in helping others. You will make a difference in the life of a child or teen who needs a home, which can be very fulfilling. Sometimes you get to mentor and help reunite a family in their worst time and be a part of them coming back together.
- You Become More Reliable and Resilient: Foster parenting is a challenging role that can often put you in situations that challenge your reliability and resilience. However, the best way to develop these qualities is to step into situations where you are needed to see how strong you are in a pinch. Kids come at all different times, under different circumstances, and with many needs. You never completely know what you're getting into until they walk in the door and the caseworker walks out.
- You Experience Lifelong Connection With Your Community: Being a foster parent is a great way to become part of your community. You will connect with other parents and kids in your area, which can make you part of your community even when you aren't living there. Kids in foster care need different services and will take you to parts of your community that you probably didn't even know existed. Getting outside of your comfort zone will become a new experience that will become your new norm.
Foster Parenting, Are You Ready?
It takes an incredible commitment to become a foster parent. Before becoming a foster parent, let's discuss some things to consider. First, you or the Agency can complicate becoming a foster parent. In most states, you must get a license and complete training before becoming a foster parent. You need to be able to legally care for a child and have a home where they can stay. There are different types of foster parents, some are part-time, and others are full-time. Taking care of children or teens full-time requires a lot of flexibility, so this is something to consider when becoming a Foster parent. Finally, you will need to be emotionally ready for the commitment. As with any major life commitment, it's important to ensure you are emotionally ready to make such a major change. The trauma the children have been through can be very stressful, and you must be mentally prepared to help them heal.
Finding a mentor foster parent as a foster parent is very important.
The reason for this is simple: foster parents know what it's like to care for children who have been abused or neglected. They understand what these kids need because they know firsthand what they have been through and what did and didn't work. Foster parents already in the system can offer these children a safe place and a stable home. Before becoming a foster parent, try to meet as many foster parents as possible. You can even join a local foster parent association, where you can meet other potential and current foster parents. Create a support system and a network to contact for needs, questions, or respite. Getting to know as many foster parents as possible is crucial because it will help you find your mentor when you finally commit.
What You Will Get From Becoming Foster Parents?
When you become a foster parent, you will be part of saving a child's life. People will notice this change in you and may even thank you for doing what you can to help. Others may also offer you their support and gratitude as they see you stepping up to help foster kids who come to live with you. You will also receive respect from others in your community and government officials, who will see that you are willing to take on this challenge. In addition, you will feel great satisfaction from your efforts and will have the opportunity to help children who need it most.
Foster parenting is an incredible commitment, but it can also be an incredible reward, as it allows you to help children who have been abused or neglected. It is a great way to make a difference in the world, even if it is only in your corner of the world.