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 meeting all the basic needs of the child or children while they are in their care. In many ways, being a foster parent is just like being any other kind of parent. The exception is that you must adhere to state requirements including, but not limited to birth parent visitations, social worker visits, court dates and more. In addition, foster care can be widely unpredictable. Some foster placements may only stay with a foster parent for a few weeks while others may turn into adoption and last a lifetime.
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 or guardians due to a number of factors. It may be the guardians 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 guardians may be abusive or simply abandoned the child. When such a situation comes to the attention of social services, it is possible the child may be removed from the home. Until their biological parents or legal guardians 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 so many people are uneducated or choose to turn a blind eye. 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 some of these children and I hope 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 that may not always have a happy ending. Still, there are some great benefits to becoming a foster parent that are listed below.
- Being a role model for a child
- Giving a child an experience they may have never had 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?