As of September 30th, 2014, over 400,000 children were in foster care in the US. This is a 4% increase from 2012. Children in need of foster parents come in all ages, races, and genders. Children can stay in a foster homes from a few days to several years. It takes a special person to become a foster parent. Many states including Austin, TX are in need of qualified fosters. If you think you are interested in becoming one, there are several things that should be considered.
Deciding if Being a Foster Parent is the Right Job for You:
Evaluate Your Support System:
Being a foster parent can be a stressful, trying thing and having someone that you can talk to when you’re having a hard time is invaluable. If you do not have a built-in support system, there are also support groups for foster parents that were created specifically for that purpose.
Do You Have the Time?
Before becoming a foster parent you must also decide if you can be completely selfless when it comes to the amount of love and time you will have to invest in this situation. You need to be prepared the there is a real possibility you will not be able to follow up with the children you are helping. Knowing that you are helping someone in need is a very rewarding feeling but it may be the only satisfaction you will receive. Saying goodbye to your foster child when it comes time for him or her to move on is one of the hardest aspects of this job.
Receiving a Child from an Abusive Situation:
One aspect you need to be prepared for is the possibility of getting a foster child that came from or experienced an abusive situation. This could cause the child to act out or exhibit signs of being resentful, anxious, angry, sad, etc. Some foster children can require more of your time and care than a natural – born child would. This usually does not ease up until the child becomes adjusted to being with you. Do not expect the child to become comfortable quickly because it could take months. It does not happen in all situations, but it is something you should be prepared for.
If you already have children of your own:
You also need to take time to consider what your children think about taking in foster kids. A foster child will bring with him or her habits and behaviors that may be picked up by your biological children. Think about how old your kids are and what an ideal age would be for a prospective foster child. Usually, you will find your own children will eagerly accept the idea of having a foster brother or sister. When the foster child actually arrives, however, your children may have a change of heart. It is up to you to handle the situation wisely so that none of the children get hurt.
Once you’ve decided to be a foster parent, there are several steps you must take:
Step One: Contact a foster agency in your area. Once you locate an agency, ask about the foster parent orientation. Most agencies have an orientation once a month or so to educate potential foster parents. After the orientation and interview have been completed, a background clearance will run. A clean background check is imperative to be considered for foster parenting.
Step Two: You need to begin initial training. You’ll attend classes taught by the foster agency that will help you better understand your roles and responsibilities as a foster parent. After you have completed the classes they will then evaluate your home. They want to make sure you have the resources necessary to properly take care of children.
Step Three: The final step is placement. They will match you with a foster child based on your capabilities and the child’s needs. Other factors that are taken into consideration include the child’s age, their schooling, where their biological parents live and the location of your home. Also if the child has any unique needs such as language or culture needs, that could influence where the child is placed.
In the crossfire of poor birth parent choices and a broken foster care system, there are innocent children who’ve done nothing to deserve the trauma that has been forced on them. They were unwillingly dragged into the chaos and bad choices of another human being. Over 400,000 currently in the United States waiting to be cared for! To love another human being with no strings attached is what we were created to do, as human beings. We’ve been divinely created with the capacity to do so. And what an amazing gift that is!
To learn how you can make a difference in the foster care system or your local community, visit https://www.togetherwerise.org/volunteer-opportunities/