Fostering a child is a fantastic goal for many households. By going into foster care, you’re offering someone an opportunity to have a stable and comfortable home for a while. However, it’s not just sunshine and rainbows. Fostering children is a huge responsibility and can impact your family unit and the fostered child heavily.
Requirements To Become A Foster Parent
Before you can even consider opening your home in this way, you need to make sure that you meet the legal requirements to become a foster parent. These requirements do change depending on what state you’re in, so do some research before applying. Generally, the following requirements will apply:
- You must be aged 21 or older
- You should have a regular source of income
- You should be able to provide character references
- Your family unit should be stable
- You will have a criminal background check
- Your home will be inspected
- You shouldn’t have a health issue that prevents you from providing proper care
Foster parents in the United States are provided with a maintenance rate that will cover some of the costs of the child, including an annual clothing allowance. However, it’s important to consider that reimbursement won’t meet all of the expenses of fostering a child, so a regular and secure income is still required.
The Needs Of The Child
When you’re fostering a child, it’s important to make sure that their needs are met. This includes their physical needs, but also their emotional needs. Fostering children can be challenging for everyone involved, and some children will have experienced trauma and neglect that they’re struggling to deal with.
It’s easy to have a storybook idea of fostering a child who’s grateful for everything that you’re doing for them. Maybe they fit perfectly into your family and, one day, you can apply for adoption. This scenario is far rarer than you may think, so be prepared for a different situation entirely.
First of all, remember that foster care is temporary by design. It’s sometimes possible to maintain a relationship with your foster child, but they will move on. Secondly, many foster children have been through a lot and they might take this out on you. Some foster children don’t want to be fostered by strangers, so will be untrusting, nervous, or angry.
As well as this, foster households will have to work with a team of social workers who are trying to help the child as well. Your house may be inspected and you’ll need to be willing to follow their plans.
I spent a few months in a foster home my senior year in high school. I was scared out of my mind, didn’t know if I would ever see my mother again or my siblings, but the family that agreed to foster me, The Estremeras, were absolutely wonderful. They helped me deal with so much of what was going on in my life at that time, and even though my stay with them was short – they left a lasting impact on my heart, and my life. I think of them often.
The Needs of Your Household
As mentioned above, foster children can find it difficult to adjust or cope with being fostered, but it’s also a huge disruption to your family. If you have children or other family living with you, then consult them before taking on this responsibility. Everyone will be making a sacrifice, so make sure that they’re willing to.
If you’re confident that you can provide a stable home for a foster child, then you can help them to reach their full potential. This can be highly rewarding, as long as you’re prepared.
Give them a stable home, plenty of love and attention, and truly listen to them and what they have been through. Chances are you will make a positive impact on their life as an adult who truly cared about them and their future. It is something that they will not soon forget.
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