Children who suffer from trauma. Children who are neglected. Children who are abused. Children who need love, Children who need stability. Children who need attachment. Sadly, the overwhelming number of children in foster care outnumbers the number of available homes to take them in.
In observance of National Foster Care Month, I, as a foster parent, am here to educate, advise, and recruit potential foster parents. The system needs your help. More importantly, these kids need your help. I’ve heard the “I couldn’t do it, how do you do it, I would get too attached, and I want to but.” But how would you feel if you took the 8 steps below to open your home and your heart to a child and know that you were the one person to be that change in their life?
8 Steps to Become a Foster Parent
- Speak to your partner (if applicable): becoming a foster parent is a huge decision that needs to be discussed to ensure both individuals have a common understanding of multiple topics including parenting styles, the decision to only foster and/or adopt. Also discuss your preferences when accepting a placement from race to age to disability. Having clear expectations will minimize any sudden decisions that may happen.
- Find resources: Watch YouTube videos with real foster families and learn from their experiences. Join foster parenting forums and groups (Facebook), visit websites such as childrensrights.org to learn more about foster care, and finally contact a family that is currently or was perviously a foster family.
- Build a team: When deciding to become a foster family, a strong support system will be an asset to the many emotions that occur as a foster family. This team may consist of family, friends, coworkers, and other foster families. Be certain this team agrees with and respects your decision to become a foster family.
- Contact your local agency: The agency will be able to provide you with important dates and answer any questions you may have.
- Attend orientation: During this meeting, you will learn more about the certification process and again will have the opportunity to ask questions, if any. One important thing to know is in Louisiana potential foster parents receive a dual certification which allows them to foster and/or adopt.
- Attend the trainings: These trainings will prepare you to become foster parents. The trainings usually are completed with 7 classes depending on your location.
- Complete paperwork and fingerprinting: The paperwork will include many personal documents including physicals, car insurance, pet immunizations, and much more that will be provided in a received packet.
- Complete the home study: After meeting your social worker, your house will be inspected up to 3 times to ensure safety for the children. Learn more about the home study here.
Myths and Truths about Foster Care
- You do not need to be wealthy, but you do need to earn enough income to meet basic needs of the child.
- You do not have to own your home.
- You do not have to be married (you can be single, divorced, widowed, or a same sex couple).
- You do need to be in good health.
- You do need to be open minded.
- You do need a team of support.
- You do need extra patience and willing to extend plenty of hugs and love.
Questions to Ponder
What prevents you from becoming a foster parent?
What questions do you have?
What are you afraid of?
Do you think you have what it takes to be a foster parent? Take the quiz.