Friday, May 4, 2007

Becoming A Foster Parent


I am hoping to become a foster parent one of these days, as soon as I have a decent living arrangement (ie: Not with my relatives, where I am staying now, who would probably frown upon my bringing kids to live with me!) so I've done a lot of research about it. I thought I'd share some of this information with you, in case you've ever thought of becoming a foster parent!

TYPES OF FOSTER CARE

Most states have these main types of foster care.

Traditional, or regular, foster care: Foster parents provide care for a child until the child is able to return to their parents, or another permanent plan is made for them.

Emergency Foster Care or Recieving Home Care. Foster parents provide emergency foster care for a child for anywhere from a few hours to thirty days.

Long-term Foster Care: Providing foster care on a long-term basis for a child who is not going to be able to either return to his birth parents or be adopted.

Fost-adopt: Providing foster care to a child with the knowledge that, when/if the child's parents' rights are terminated, the foster parents will adopt her.

Respite Care: Providing short term care for a child so that his foster parents can have a break.

Specialized Foster Care: Providing foster care to children with special needs or special circumstances. For instance, foster parents who provide care only to girls who've been sexually abused, or to children with developmental disablities, or to children with behavior problems.

Kinship Care/Friends And Family Care: A relative or someone else who already has a relationship with the child provides care for them but the child is still in the foster care system.

Therapeutic Foster Care: Providing care to children or teens who have severe behavior problems or emotional needs. This can include children who removed from their parents' homes due to the children's behaviors, instead of due to the parents' behaviors... such as children who are violent towards their parents.


Who Can Be A Foster Parent?
Different states have different requirements for foster parents. Usually you must be at least twenty-one, have a place to live with an extra bedroom for a foster child to use, and be able to pass a background check.

Process To Becoming A Foster Parent

1. Research different foster care agencies. You could either go through your state or county's foster care program, or you could go through a private agency such as Catholic Charities. Get information from different agencies and find out what the expectations are for foster parents, and what kind of training and support is provided.

2. Fill out an application for a foster care agency. It may ask things such as why you want to become a foster parent, what your child care experiences were like, how you would handle discipline, etc.

3. Go through a home study, which will include background checks of all the adults (and in some cases, everyone over the age of 12) living in your home, a safety inspection, etc.

4. Go through a foster care training program, usually provided by the foster care agency.

5. If all systems are go, you become a licensed foster parent!

The whole process may take anywhere from 2-6 months.


Financial Support For Foster Children
Foster parents get paid an allowance for every foster child in their care. However, most states require that foster parents have another type of income to support themselves with... the foster children's allowance is meant to support the foster children, not to provide a living for the parents. (However, some states or agencies have "professional foster parents" or "Career foster parents", who are more highly trained than regular foster parents.

Usually foster parents are provided, for each child, an allowance of about $250 a month, which is meant to provide for a child's food, clothing and other day-to-day needs. For infants, who are fairly expensive because they need things like diapers, formula, and new clothes every ten seconds, an additional $50 or so a month may be provided. Also, there is an annual clothing allowance of about $150-$250 (depending on their age) for each child. The children's medical needs are covered by Medicaid.

Extra money might be provided for things like extracurricular activities, holiday gifts, etc. Also, foster parents may find that they can qualify for special sliding-scale rates for activities for their foster kids.


Now What?

Here is a page that lists every state's department that handles foster care.

In addition, you may want to look for private foster care agencies. You could check your Yellow Pages under "Social Services" to find agencies that handle foster care... or Google it!


I hope to be a foster parent some day... and maybe you will, too!

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