Are you interested in becoming a foster parent? Then you’ve come to the right place for thoughts and ideas that will help and encourage you in this new venture.
In life, learning takes place when a person has a challenge to tackle. The best way to learn the skill of foster parenting is when you have a foster child in your home “living with you.” With this in mind, you will need to receive additional input from: parenting books, parenting videos, other foster parents, and training classes. Then you must put into practice what you learn!
The best place to start your journey is to visit a local foster parent. This person will be the key to starting and developing your own foster parenting skills. The next best place to contact is your “Children and Youth” office to get information on “Foster Care Agencies.” After contacting the Foster Agency, you will receive a large application. You will be asked to provide information on past residences, people you have lived with, reasons you want to be a foster parent, a physical with medical testing, references, how your home is set up, where the foster child will sleep, your education, your job history, and much more. During this process, you must also decide what type of child you would like to have in your home. So, you must decide if you have preferences regarding the child’s age, their sex, and the level of difficulty of care. This means that on one hand, there are children that can be responsible and mature for their age and on the other hand, there are children that can’t even feed themselves. Search yourself and recognize your limits in deciding what type of child you would welcome into your home. Are you willing to do the work necessary to handle a child who has medical, physical, social, or other difficult problems? If you say, “Yes!” and make that commitment, then you will be successful.
Below are some of the positive and negative experiences in foster care. I also want to remind you that I have been a foster dad for six years, and I still enjoy it. So, don’t be discouraged by the list of negatives.
Positives of Foster Care:
Helping keep children safe.
Providing a better life for them.
Sharing and giving part of yourself.
Helping a child reach their full potential.
Knowing that you can make a difference.
Making a child into an adult “giver” not a “taker.”
Using your skills to help others.
Negatives of Foster Care:
Having your property damaged.
Theft in your home.
Disapproval from friends and family.
Frustration when you realize your lack of immediate influence.
Feelings of inferiority when your child does not mature.
Dealing with anger being released at you.
Wanton disregard towards you.
Reputation damaged e.g. using a medical card at your local drug store.
Integrating foster children with your own children tends to concern most people. One parent asked me, “Can I provide foster care if my children are two and three years old?” I said emphatically, “Yes!” It is good to have other children in the home. However, if you are experiencing difficulty with your own children then foster parenting may not be the best route at this point.
Another strength that will help you succeed is being organized. Each foster child will have a host of different appointments that will occur weekly and monthly. These appointments may include: doctors, dentist, supervisors, natural family members, therapist, physicals, lab test visits, training meetings, teachers, PTA, shopping, court hearings, probation officers, lawyers, friends, etc. Their needs must be coordinated with the needs of your own children, your spouse, and yourself. I will share with you some helpful hints on maintaining a date book, history folder, fire drill records, and medical records in future articles.
I hope that these points will help you to decide if foster parenting is the right fit for you. I’m not here to convince you to sign up to do foster care, but rather to give you help and facts … the real facts. Maybe you have what it takes to be a foster parent. When you make the commitment to open your home to foster care you will be doing a good thing. You may even save a child’s life! Be that someone to give a child a chance to someday enjoy a happy and healthy home of their own.