Maybe you’ve never considered foster care or fostering to adopt as an option for you, but you should. Here’s why:
1. There are a lot of kids who need foster homes.
The most recently reported statistics regarding foster care in the United States found that there were approximately 455,000 kids in the foster care system. That’s nearly a half a million children who have been abused or neglected. Children who are looking for a safe, stable, loving home. And while a lot of research points to much better emotional, social, and intellectual outcomes for displaced children who have been placed in foster care rather than institutions (check out the research here and here), each year approximately 60,000 children are placed in institutions or group homes instead of foster homes. There simply aren’t enough foster homes available.
2. You can adopt a child from the foster care program.
Of those half a million children in foster care, approximately 104,000 are eligible for adoption. They are hoping to find a forever family. Sadly, each year 20,000 of these kids “age out” of foster care and are left to face the rest of their lives without the stability of a family to back them up. The outcomes for these young adults are often not ideal.
If you’re considering international adoption but have been deterred by the higher costs, bear in mind that foster adoption is free– and children coming from foster care may have difficulties similar to children coming from overseas orphanages. Children all over the globe need homes– why not help some who are closer to home?
If adoption is your primary goal in fostering children, be aware that while you can work directly through the state, you can also work with an adoption agency. An adoption agency will screen foster placements for those who are working towards adoption and they’ll work with you to match you with a child. Some will even work with you in helping the child transition from their previous foster home into yours.
3. There’s an option for everyone.
There are many different types of foster homes. A traditional long-term fostering situation may not work for you– but perhaps you have the resources to be able to house children for shorter amounts of time. Or maybe you are equipped to handle children with extra problems and would an excellent fit for providing therapeutic foster care.
Types of foster homes vary from state to state but can include:
- Short Term Foster Care. A child is placed in a home for a few days to a few months.
- Long Term Foster Care. A child is placed in a home for several months to several years.
- Intensive Treatment/Therapeutic Care. These are homes in which the foster parents have received special training that will enable them to parent children with severe emotional disturbances.
- Respite Care. Respite Care families take care of foster children to give their regular foster parents a break. Respite care providers often provide longer term foster care as well.
- Emergency Care. When children need to be removed from their homes immediately, these homes are available for emergency placement.
- Supportive Care for Children with Developmental Needs. A child with developmental or intellectual problems is placed with a family who can address their special needs.
- Pre-Adoptive Foster Care. A child is placed in a home with the end-goal of adoption.