Foster care is a state-run program that allows stand-in parents, referred to as foster parents, to care for minor children who have been removed from their biological homes. There are a number of reasons why children might be removed from their biological homes, including abuse and neglect.
Often, parents who have had their children removed from their homes are given a plan to follow. The plan could include entering and successfully completing rehab, securing a job or a safe place to live, or attending and participating in a pre-determined number of counseling sessions. Once the biological parents complete the steps or plan given to them by the courts, full custody will be restored. However, until that happens, children all over the country need a safe, stable, and loving place to live. And that's where foster parenting and foster homes come into the picture.The main goal of foster care is reunification. However, it isn't uncommon for children placed in foster care to become available for adoption at some point.
If you're interested in becoming a foster parent and opening your home to children in need, you'll have to complete a few steps before you're licensed. Each state completes their process a little differently, but, generally, each state will have similar requirements.
Some requirements to become a foster parent may be:
Once you've completed the requirements for your state, you will usually get a paper copy of your license, either in the mail or hand delivered, or at least a call from your local Child Welfare Office to inform you that you're certified to foster.
Licensed foster parents are usually reimbursed expenses accrued throughout the month by way of monthly stipend, sent from the state or agency you're working with. It is not uncommon for parents to spend well beyond the monthly allotment in order to care for the children in their care, so ensuring your ability to care for children is a very important step when deciding to become licensed. However, that stipend will help considerably.
Depending on the age range you've chosen, you could start getting calls even before your license has arrived. The need for qualified foster and foster adoptive homes in the United States is great, and taking the steps to become a licensed foster parent is a fantastic way to help children in your state who need a safe place to call home.
Being a foster parent can be emotionally taxing, especially when it's time for a foster child to move homes or be adopted into a permanent home. The ability to love instantly but let go easily is crucial. It won't be easy to do, and you won't always be able to do it. But know that those children are progressing and having new life experiences, and you've been able to positively affect them and their lives.
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.