Becoming a foster care parent to a child in foster care can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. There is a real need for caring and loving foster parents in the life of a child in the foster care system. The need is for well-adjusted adults who are caring, loving and want to make a difference in a child’s life to step up to the plate and do just that. There are millions of children waiting in the foster care system around the world who want loving homes and devoted parents.
This article will discuss the process of becoming a foster carer or foster care parent. There is a legal process as mandated by each state for an adult to be approved as a foster parent. If this is something that you are considering, having basic knowledge of the process will help. As Lisa Witter from perpetual fostering explains, there is an enormous need for foster parents to step up and bring these children into their homes.
Ready for the Challenge
Whether you are an individual or a couple, first ask yourself if you are ready for the daily challenges that will come from being a foster carer? The foster care child is special because they have been taken from a broken and often dysfunctional home and parent or caretaker that they know and love, to be placed within a new environment with you. The child may be resentful, belligerent and defiant in the beginning as he/she adjusts to their new environment. A foster carer has to be patient while allowing the foster child to grow and get used to his/her new environment.
There will also be constant meetings with a caseworker once the child is placed in your home. This means another new person entering your home who will be asking questions out of concern for the child’s welfare within the home. A foster carer will need to be patient before, during and after the process of placing the foster care child in your home in order to have a successful transition for the child.
What is the Process of Placing a Foster Child in Your Home?
The first step you must take after deciding that you want to become a foster carer is beginning the application process. This entails calling your local county foster care department in your local Department of Family and Children Services or DFCS as it is widely known, to get started on your application and to have answered any questions that you might have. There is usually an orientation that will help you understand the process. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations so it will depend upon where you live that will determine what you will need to do to get approved.
You will need to understand what makes a good foster parent like a stable home, maturity, being an advocate for children and being a team player with your social worker and family.
It is important to understand the things that you do not need to be. These include: you do not need to be married, own your own home, be wealthy, be a stay at home parent, young or already be a parent with children of your own.
Before beginning your application, some states require you to take a pre-service training that usually runs from 4-10 weeks, depending upon the state. These classes teach you about the challenges of becoming a foster carer or foster parent.
After starting and completing your application and upon approval you will meet your caseworker. The caseworker will meet with you to go over what is expected of you as a foster parent. You will work together as a team to ensure the successful transition of the child into your home and what goals and vision are needed for the foster child to feel loved and supported. This will be key in the success of the child being able to adjust to your home easier.
The adjustment will be a process for you and your foster care child. It may take weeks and even months for the child to understand that you are trying to help and not hurt. Remember the child is from a broken home where often times there has been abuse, neglect and even abandonment.
The child must feel that you will not do the same. Every child and personality is different. Get to know your foster child. Sit down and have a positive personal conversation with him/her. This will help in making them feel more comfortable in your home from the beginning. Remember that you are the difference maker in success for your foster child.