I have had the privilege of knowing many amazing and inspiring families all over this country who have embarked on the journey of becoming foster parents. I’ve seen the love that these individuals pour into these children, whether it be long term, or for a short period of time. I’ve seen children return to their parents, and I’ve seen these temporary families become forever families through adoption.
There are many reasons to seek to foster a child. Whether it be to build your family through adoption or to open your home to children who need a place to stay, no matter how long, you’ll have certain steps to take in order to welcome kids into your home.
As this article talks specifically about foster parent Ohio, please note that though some of the regulations and scenarios may be similar, it will be best to review the requirements in your own state before you embark on your own foster journey.
Foster Parent Ohio: Where to Begin
Foster and Adopt Ohio is a great resource when you’re first contemplating a foster placement. You’ll need to do your research as you would with any adoption or foster placement, but particularly about how foster care works. Remember that the intention of foster care is to provide a temporary home for a child and hopefully, to reunite them with family. That’s not always the case depending on the situation (and in some instances, a placement is made with the intention to foster to adopt). Though social workers will try to find an appropriate family member with whom to place the child, that’s not always an option.
As with adoption, you’ll need to find an agency that can help you in becoming a foster parent. Additionally, you’ll need to complete a home study. (Read more about my own experience with the home study here!)
Foster Parent Ohio: The Requirements
It is a myth that anyone can be a foster parent. Though movies and television portray it as being common and easy, even those involved in kinship placement have important requirements to meet, training to attend, and have to go through a similar process as everyone else.
One of the misconceptions I hear about when it comes to foster care is the age of the people who can foster. Though many people think one just has to be a legal adult, the reality is that you must be 21 years old to be a foster parent.
One person in the household has to be able to read, write, and speak English. This is not to dissuade individuals from fostering, but to ensure that they can communicate not only well with the child in their home, but also to be able to effectively work with the agency, social worker, and other state and county officials.
You don’t have to be married to be a foster parent. To be a foster parent in Ohio, you can be single as well. Some people believe that they have to be in a certain income bracket to become a foster parent—the reality is that you just need to meet the basic needs of the child or children you are fostering and be able to afford your monthly house payment or rent.
You need to be able to care for the child or children you’re seeking to foster. This means that you have to be free of any physical or mental conditions that could endanger any children or affect your ability to properly care for them. If you have questions about this, you can speak to a social worker in your county. A medical professional will have to complete a medical form for each member of your household. Click here to access that form.
There are other requirements (including those about convictions of certain crimes and fire safety regulations). You can find more information about foster parent Ohio requirements here.
Though these requirements seem like enough, please remember that continuing education is an important part of being a foster parent, both pre and post-placement of a child in your home.
According to Kerry, an Ohio foster parent, “All foster parents in the state of Ohio are required to participate in 40 hours of continuing education training.” She notes that these are typically sessions that are set up at a specified location, though some are offered online as well. Furthermore, she explains that “when a foster family has a foster placement for 90 days, the county agency can also reduce the number of hours required in the two-year requirement.”
However, it’s best to factor in those hours when you are planning to become a foster parent in Ohio and to ensure that you’ll be able to find time to dedicate to this important aspect of the process.
Foster Parent Ohio: Get the Support You Need
Being a foster parent can be lonely and isolating—particularly when you don’t have those in your life who have experienced it firsthand. It can be a dynamic that your family and friends may have trouble comprehending and it is important to find the support you need so that you can be a better parent to the children in your home, as well as to be able to stay mentally healthy yourself!
Luckily, there are numerous support opportunities available to you. If you can’t find them, speak to your social worker, agency, or adoption/foster care expert in your community.
Kerry explains that support is available formally as a certified training program. “These are usually three or six-hour sessions, or even a series of sessions, based on a variety of topics. A foster parent licensed in the state of Ohio can attend any session in any part of the state.”
Kerry also discusses the amazing support that a local agency did for foster parents in the community through a foster parent appreciation campaign this past spring. “They had a variety of items/services donated from area businesses or groups,” she says. “Each foster family was provided these items or services.” Kerry notes that the local Kiwanis group put together birthday bags that included plates, napkins, forks, a gift card for the kids to get something at Walmart and McDonald’s, and a local bakery donated a half sheet cake certificate. These have been very important to her as she has “been able to use these throughout the year as our kiddos have birthdays.”
Do you know someone who is currently a foster parent? See if something like this exists in your community—if not, consider starting it to support foster families.
Those who are considering becoming or are a foster parent in Ohio can also seek opportunities to speak with caseworkers from the county agency, other licensed officials, and to find networks in your area of foster families. (You might be surprised at how many others have already been fostering in your own neighborhood or town). Other resources include online forums like this one at Adoption.com and forums on social media sites like Facebook. If you’re struggling to find the support and resources that you need, reach out to your agency.
Foster Parent Ohio: The Challenges
As it is with raising any child in your home, foster care has its own unique challenges. Though training does exist to help overcome them, as Kerry explains, “the actual situation feels different than simulating a case study in a training.”
One of the most common, sad, and difficult challenges that foster parents face is working with children who have experienced some sort of trauma. Kerry explains that almost every child in the foster care system has experienced some type of trauma.
“In the four years that we have been certified foster parents, the state has increased efforts for us to understand trauma-related care,” she explains.
Kerry explains that another challenge her family has faced is not having a lot of background information about the children being placed in her home. (This often happens in adoption as well). “We care deeply for the children placed in our homes,” she says. “We attempt to build relationships with caseworkers to gain as much information as possible, but the caseworkers usually have very heavy caseloads.” As we all likely know, it can be difficult for caseworkers to devote as much time as a foster parent may hope to their situation, so be prepared for this and know it isn’t their fault as they have multiple children and families to support.
Though not a challenge to you, if you are considering fostering or adopting a child of a different race than your own, you may encounter issues that you hadn’t expected to face. As diverse as your circle may be, adopting from another culture comes with learning about skincare, health care, styling hair, etc., so be prepared to learn more about not only other cultures, but how to properly care for a child of another ethnicity. If you’re planning to be open to the placement of a child of any race, this article can help you start to understand the unique nuances of transracial adoptions.
Another challenge that faces some mothers who have recently adopted or who are fostering is postpartum depression. Postpartum depression doesn’t just occur in mothers who have given birth (this is a very common misconception that I for one, am trying to debunk!), but also with parents who have adopted or who are fostering. Read more about it (and learn from mothers who experienced it) here.
Though challenges do exist, they do in any parenting situation. The best thing you can do is to be as prepared as possible and know where you can get support if you need it!
Foster Parent Ohio: Be The Change
According to the News-Herald, in 2019, there were 18,323 children in the foster care system in Ohio with a projection of 20,000 in 2020.
I did mention before that caseworkers attempt to place children in a kinship placement first, but the reality is that many of these family members may not be able to foster, may live too far away, or may not be applicable to do so depending on the requirements in their state.
The reality is that there is a great need for individuals and families to open their homes to children who are in the foster care system. You may have stumbled on this article and this website because you’re longing to adopt. (You can learn more about adopting through foster care here.) However, you may be the perfect candidate to welcome children into your home who need a loving and caring home. If you have the ability to meet the requirements, the understanding that the situation may only be temporary, but could also be permanent, and have a place in your heart and home for a child, you should definitely consider being a foster parent in Ohio.
Again, if you’re thinking about being a foster parent (or adopting) in Ohio, it’s important to do your research. You can find a lot of the information that you will need to get started in the links below:
Should you choose to become a foster parent, please be sure to do research in your county and find a reputable agency to help you. Know that you’re not alone in whatever decision that you choose. There are always people ready and willing to support you!
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.