Foster Care Explained

Myca Swazer

May is National Foster Care Month and there are many children waiting to become a part of a loving, happy, family. Foster care exists because there are some parents who cannot take proper care of their children because of numerous circumstances. Whether it is drug abuse, homelessness, mental illness, poverty or lack of support from others, every child needs a nurturing and safe living environment. Foster parenting is not lifelong unless a full adoption is being planned. But those who choose to become foster parents, must realize how important it is for the child to have a stable home life.

Foster care can be a fulfilling and challenging opportunity. But some people think that foster care only involves taking care of a child or children so that they may receive a check and that definitely isn’t the case. Children need to be loved, nurtured, and cared for, in every way. Parents are supposed to do this in order for their children to feel secure and loved. There are many qualifications that are required for someone to become a foster parent. It is imperative that the child has 24-hour care and preferably adult supervision consistently. The parent(s) family must be able to take care of themselves without relying on the foster child’s monthly stipend.

The children must feel safe and secure in the foster home and have patience, being flexible, having an understanding, and a sense of humor is of utmost importance. The home must be safe and free of hazardous materials. As far as foster parent(s) are concerned, a criminal background, as well as a protective services background, must be clean in order to invite a foster child into their home. Fingerprints have to be taken and authorized through the local, state and FBI databases. Families should be able to work as a team alongside the agency for a smooth transition for the child and proper well being.

Licensing and certification are required in the United States for any family or single person to foster a child. The licensing is different in every state because there are different variations of the process. Foster parenting is open to single, dual, and same-sex families.

There are a number of steps that a potential foster parents have to take in order to move forward. A certification process is necessary to get licensed for foster parenting. The first step the potential parent must take is to find a private or public agency to call and acquire the proper information they need. A meeting with the agency is then set up to allow everyone involved to learn more about the process. The interest and capabilities are important in order to match the child(ren) with families that the agencies see fit. If there is a mismatch for whatever reason, problems can occur and the child may not feel safe or good enough to be loved. The agency then gathers references of the potential parents of close family and friends to check character and background.

After those steps have been completed, the orientation and service training begins. Parents have to complete ten to thirty hours of training for licensure and to be matched with a child. Some agencies require parents to be CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) certified and have first aid training. Checking the home for safety violations and other potential hazards are a requirement before a child can be placed in a home. The entire foster care process is of course to ensure the safety of all children involved and to make sure that they are loved just as much as any other child.

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