Foster care is designed to provide protection to children and their families if it becomes impossible for the children’s biological parents to care for them. There are a variety of circumstances that lead to children needing foster care, including their parent’s battle with mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, or poverty. Foster care allows children to have a safe, temporary place to live. The following are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering becoming a foster parent. 

Understanding What Foster Care Is and What Foster Care Is Not

It’s good to have clearly in mind the commitment you are thinking about taking on. Becoming a foster parent gives you the chance to improve the world, one child at a time. Being a foster parent is a rewarding experience. It allows you to volunteer in a way that has a direct impact on one person’s life. It is also one of the most challenging things you have ever considered undertaking. 

Becoming a foster parent is not simple. It will require you to dedicate time, energy, and emotions. Foster parenting is not something that you do to make yourself feel better. Instead, you become a foster parent because you are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the child you are taking on. While there may be some financial compensation to cover the cost of caring for the children, being a foster parent is not a business. It’s not a way to make extra money. 

Protecting Children from Dangerous Elements

When children are in families that are faced with substance abuse, economic problems, or mental health issues, they may become victims of evil people looking to exploit them. This can be seen when you look at the human trafficking facts for the United States. 

The Department of Homeland Security says that in 2016, over 57,000 people were trafficked into the United States. Annually, the statistics show that between 15,000 and 50,000 women and children are coerced or forced into sex trafficking. There are other studies, such as those from the University of Pennsylvania, that say the number is much higher, ranging between 100,000 and 300,000 individuals. 

Males, including children, are trafficked to work in labor markets. The victim’s own families are behind the trafficking. For this reason, foster parent agencies have stringent rules on who they will and will not accept as foster parents. 

What You Need to Qualify to Be a Foster Parent

To be a foster parent, you need to be emotionally, physically, and mentally able to handle the needs of a child. Remember, if this child is going into foster care, it means that the life they lived previously was difficult to the point where their parents could no longer or no longer wanted to care for them. 

Most foster care agencies require foster parents to care for the child and provide supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should be able to care for themselves financially and not be concerned with receiving the child’s stipend. 

Being a foster parent means that you need to have a flexible personality. Patience is key. The child you will foster has come from an environment that may be drastically different from what you are accustomed to. Understanding is a must. 

Your home must be safe. There can be no fire or safety hazards. you must be able to pass a criminal background check. Additionally, you must be licensed and certified in order to foster children in the United States. 

The Process of Getting Certification as a Foster Parent

The process of being certified as a foster parent varies, depending on the agency you work with. In most cases, there will be a meeting between you and the agency. The agency will discuss with you your responsibilities as a foster parent. 

From there, your interest and capabilities will be discussed. The goal is to help you determine if you truly have what it takes and if your family has what it takes to adequately serve as a foster family. The agency will gather information about each member of your family with the goal of assessing whether you can care for children. Your references will be reviewed, background checks will be performed, and your home will be checked for safety. 

You will receive orientation and training before you can become licensed. Afterward, you will be given your license along with information about children that would be right for your family. Once the license has been issued and everything checks out, you will have the privilege of caring for a child as a foster parent.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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