About Foster Parenting
More than half a million children are currently in foster care in the U.S. This means they have been temporarily placed with families outside of their own home due to child abuse or neglect. Their homes have been broken by death, divorce, drugs, alcohol, physical or sexual abuse, illness or financial hardship. Of these children in foster care, over 14,000 children are currently living with lesbian or gay foster parents.
The goal of foster parenting is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment. Foster parenting requires courage, empathy, patience and tenacity as well as love.
What To Prepare For
One of the most important things a foster parent needs to be prepared for is having a child in your home and then having them leave. Nearly half of all children in foster care have an end goal to be reunited with their families.
Many children come into the foster care system with emotional problems for which a foster family will have to prepare. A lot of these problems stem from feelings of abandonment, experiencing abuse and a lack of nurturing. Patience and preparation are necessities for foster parents.
Steps To Becoming A Foster Parent
Requirements for becoming a foster parent differ from state to state. However, there are some universal requirements such as: being 21 years of age or older; passing a criminal background check; and completing a successful homestudy and training.
Below are the basic steps to becoming a foster parent as outlined by the National Foster Parent Association. These steps are standard no matter where you decide to foster parent.
- Complete an application for a family home license.
- Complete a background check, a criminal history check and finger printing of each adult member of the household.
- Have a stable and supportive family.
- Complete a homestudy and interview.
- Provide character references.
- Be 21 years of age or older.
- Complete training before you may receive your license.
Finding an Agency
While the names may vary, you need to contact the government agency in your state that is responsible for foster care. It might be called "The Department of Human Resources," "The Division of Children and Family Services," "The Department of Social Services" or something similar. For the easiest way to find the foster care agency in your state, go to the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search maintained by the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Make sure you do your research when selecting an agency that will license you. Along with your own research, contact LGBT resources within your community to see if there are any agencies that come recommended. An agency that is open and accepting of your family will make the entire process go smoother.
Foster Parenting & Finances
The decision to become a foster parent includes several financial considerations. In most cases, foster parents receive a set reimbursement to help with expenses while a child is in their home. The monthly stipend ranges from $200 to $700, depending on the age of the child and the state and county you are in. Most states also provide small clothing allowances and some day care or day camp funds. Foster children also are covered under your county, state and federal welfare health benefits for their medical and dental needs.
For more information:
Federal Tax Guide for Foster Parents [www.nfpaonline.org]