Making an impact on someone’s life, especially the life of a child in need, is a rewarding and irreplaceable opportunity. Did you know that Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, and John Lennon were all foster children? As you are probably aware, not every child is born into a home suitable to meet the needs for their optimal happiness, health, and individual growth. Becoming a foster parent means presenting a child in need with the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life by providing them with the support and guidance that every person deserves. Not only is foster parenting rewarding for a child, but it is rewarding for the foster parent — who will likely grow and learn from the process as a parent and as a person. If you are considering becoming a foster parent, we are excited for your interest, and want to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the road ahead. Here are some of the steps on how to become a foster parent, and the essentials that you will need to know.
Things to Keep in Mind
Before you take the leap into letting another life into your home, here are some things that you should make sure that you do and are fully aware of:
- Educate yourself and your family: If you are bringing a foster child into a home with other children, be sure that your family is aware of what fostering parenting entails. Make sure that they are on board with the process, because you will need the cooperation of everyone in your family to make the transition smooth and enjoyable for both parties.
- Communicate: The process of fostering a child will require you to communicate with a wide range of people, which include but are not limited to: the birth parents of the foster child, the foster child, social workers, court personnel, your family and friends, therapists, and teachers. It is important that you know what your role is going to be and that you are aware of the components of the process you are engaging in, as you do not want to come across as unaware or ill-qualified.
- Cooperate: You will undoubtedly be working closely with a lot of people throughout the process. Always voice any needs or concerns that you might have. By participating and engaging with the people involved in the process, you will be better to help meet the needs of your foster child and yourself.
There can be a few initial misconceptions of what people think foster parents need to be or have in order to foster a child. Let us help clear the air for you.
To become a foster parent, you do not need to:
- Be married
- Own a home
- Be rich
- Have children
- A certain age
- A stay-at home parent
However, you will need to be:
- Emotionally stable and mature.
- Enjoy being with children.
- Work well together with your family and those involved in the fostering process.
Becoming a Foster Parent
Ready to begin to process? Here are the steps you will need to take to become a foster parent:
Pre-service parent training classes: These classes are required by some states before you even begin the application process. They typically last for about 4-10 weeks depending on the state.
Application process: Once your training classes are completed, you can begin the application process. There is obvious information that you will need to provide, such as: income, criminal records, reference letters, and your birth certificate. Make sure that you give yourself time to obtain these.
Meeting your case worker: Your relationship with your case worker is very important, as they will be there with you throughout this entire process. Make sure you are honest with them and communicate your hopes and desires for your role. Your case worker will expect you to:
- Be responsive, open, and courteous to their requests.
- Maintain confidentiality concerning your foster child.
- Be open to any home inspections and background checks.
Participate in a home study: Some states require that potential foster parents go through a home study with their caseworker. In this situation, your case worker will interview and observe you and your family in your home environment for anywhere from 3 to 6 months. They will take note of:
- Parenting habits and experiences
- Your employment and education.
- Your relationships and social life.
- Your home and neighborhood environment.
- Your personal reasons for wanting to become a foster parent.
Preparation: Once your case worker gives the okay, your application will be processed, and hopefully accepted. You will then be expected to wait for foster parent placement from the agency that you are going through. During this time, you can take the opportunity to prepare your home for a safe and loving environment for a child.
- Keep updated on the placement process and learn as much as you can about it.
- Maintain your budget accordingly so that you can adequately support your new child.
- Once you know what age group you will be receiving, buy things and plan accordingly.
Welcome Your Foster Child: Meeting your foster child for the first time may be an overwhelming and emotional experience, and it can take some time to get used to. Remember to be patient, as the transitions and changes that the both of you are going through will be new. Of course, always be aware that fostering a child is rarely permanent, but the impact that you have on them can last forever.
Embark on Your New Journey!
Congratulations for making it this far. You are now aware of the steps to take to embark on this wonderful, exciting, and fulfilling journey. Remember that Udemy.com provides a wide variety of courses pertaining to parenting, positive relationships, and how to keep your family happy and healthy. Best of luck on settling into your new roles, we know you will be a star!