What is a Foster Parent?
A foster parent is a licensed individual who cares for another’s child when they are unable to do so. Foster parents are responsible for the child’s health, education, emotional well-being, and more. Foster parents must meet all the basic needs of a child and will likely take care of things such as doctor appointments, extracurricular activities, buying school supplies, planning birthday parties and other typical child rearing practices. A foster parent may care for the child for only a short amount of time or they may care for them until they are adults. Simply put, a foster parent is like any other parent except you are a parent to another parent’s child for an unknown amount of time.
Why is There a Need for Foster Parents?
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Children are often put at risk by their parents due to a number of factors. It may be the parent cannot provide for the child due to finances, substance abuse, incarceration, domestic violence, lack of resources, death, illness, and many other factors. Other times, the parent may be abusive or simply abandoned the child. When such a situation comes to the attention of social services, the child may be removed from the home. Until their biological parents are able to care for them properly or they become available for adoption, these children must have a place to go. That is what foster parents do. They take in these children and care for them as if they were their own until they must go somewhere else.
Most people have probably heard about the foster care system, but few take the time to really do their research. Due to the lack of education on the subject, many people falsely believe myths about the foster care system or simply say it is the government’s job to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, the foster care crisis is a nationwide epidemic that should be everyone’s problem. There are thousands of children in foster care due to no fault of their own. These kids have been unfairly exposed to unfortunate circumstances without any control over the situation. They need our help. Every year, far more children are entering the system than there are people becoming foster parents. There is no where for all these children to go. Some children must spend nights in government offices or spend years in group homes when all they really want is a place to call home. Once I realized how great the need was in just my own city, I could no longer live with the fact that I had an empty chair at my table that could be filled by a foster child. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think of a 4 year old little boy scared in a government office or a 6 year old girl bullied in a group home. These situations are so prevalent, because everyday people don’t have the heart to care. Well, I have decided to care. I am becoming a foster parent, because I believe it is the right thing to do. I know I can help at least one child, but I hope to help many. I hope if you are reading this than you will consider it too.
Benefits of Becoming a Foster Parent
Most experienced foster parents will likely tell you that being a foster parent is not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, it can be a very emotional journey may not always have a happy ending. Still, there are some great benefits to becoming a foster parents as listed below.
- Being a role model for a child
- Giving a child an experience they may have never gotten to experience otherwise (such as going to the beach, baking cookies, or having a birthday party)
- Seeing a positive change in a child
- Getting the joy of knowing that child
- Potential for adoption
- Knowledge that you are helping your community
- Getting to see that child be reunified with a stable family or adopted into a new family
- Gaining the experience of being a parent
- And so much more! You may have noticed I didn’t mention financial incentives here. Although you will likely receive a small stipend from the government to “cover” the cost of the child living with you, this stipend is not significant. If you are being a true parent to the child, you will be spending that stipend on items such as clothing, toys, school supplies, and more. Foster parents don’t usually make money off their placements and many actually spend more than they make even with the stipend. So while there are a many benefits to fostering, money is not one of them.
What do you think about becoming a foster parent? Do you think you could do it?