There are over 400,000 children in the United States currently in the foster care system. Often, these children have been removed from homes where they were neglected or abused, though some come into foster care after losing their parents or caregivers. They have been to some very dark places and they need some stability and hope.
Becoming a foster parent is one way that you can make a real and lasting impact on a child’s life. It can also be a bridge into foster adoption. (For more information about how to adopt a child from the foster care program, click here.)
This self-assessment might help you determine if you’re ready to become a foster parent.
Successful foster parents come from many backgrounds. You don’t have to fit into a certain race, marital status, or income bracket to be a foster parent. If you have room in your home, enough money to support yourself financially, and a fairly clean criminal history record, chances are you’re qualified to be a foster parent.
Find some real-life foster parents and drill them for information. “What do you wish you had known before you began foster parenting?” “What can I do to prepare myself to be a foster parent?” “What surprised you most about foster parenting?”
One place you can connect with other foster parents is through our foster care forums.
It’s essential that you spend time learning about how abuse and neglect can impact a child’s behavior and development.
You can find lots of great articles about adoption and foster parenting here.
application to become a foster parent. These meetings are usually 1-2 hours long and will give you a general overview of what to expect as a foster parent.
These meetings are a great way to meet other experienced and prospective foster parents and begin building your foster parenting support network.
This orientation meeting will hopefully give you an idea of the different types of foster parenting—emergency care, long-term care, therapeutic care, and respite care. You can select one or more type of foster parenting that you’re willing to do.
- Your contact information.
- Employers and residences over the most recent years.
- Information about your current marriage and any previous marriages, if applicable.
- Information about your finances.
- Names and locations of family members.
You will address many of these questions in greater depth when you complete your home study (more on that later).
The state foster care program you’re working with will have one of its staff social workers complete this evaluation.
Many states provide the option of either
(1) Completing a basic foster-care-only home study or
(2) Completing a “dual” home study that would enable you to adopt a child in your care, should the opportunity arise. (Please note that you can complete an adoption home study later if you don’t choose this option in the beginning. If you want to learn more about foster adoption, visit our Foster and Adoption page.)
Click here for some great tips on surviving your home study.
Be patient. Be kind. Open your heart. Many foster parents are afraid to “get too attached” to the children in their care, but these children need to know what attachment is, and oftentimes they have not had a chance to learn it from anyone else.
Thank you for considering foster parenting.