Have you ever thought that someday you would want to be a foster parent? Maybe your someday begins today. This shouldn’t be a haphazard decision but a well-thought-out, life-changing decision. Research. Ask questions. Then make the call. It all begins with a decision.
Deciding to Become a Foster Parent
Once you have made a decision to learn more about the foster care system, look up the information for your state’s department of human services or any local foster care agency. Write down a list of questions you have prior to making the initial phone call. You may even want to reach out to other foster families in your area before choosing a specific foster care agency. Just be cautious as you seek out where your foster children will be coming from. It is advisable to choose an agency outside of your neighborhood or town if you can. Issues can arise with taking in a foster child that has recently been taken away from his or her family and that family lives nearby. Choose somewhere that fits you.
Taking the Required Classes
In the classes, you will learn everything you need to know to make your decisions from there on out. Each state is different; however, in many states, the classes take around 30 hours. Classes are typically offered in the evenings and weekends. Within the classes, you will learn about the licensing process, the potential fostering to adopt process, the rules and laws to abide by when you have a foster child in your care, and many situational stories and videos in order for you to get a feel of what you are getting licensed to do. Once the hours are complete, you will be placed with a licensing worker.
Your Licensing Worker
Now, the not-so-fun part that will directly lead you to the fun part: Your licensing worker will help you complete all of the necessary requirement to obtain your license. All adults in your home will need a background check and fingerprints. Everyone needs to submit a current physical and TB testing. If you have a family pet(s), the vet and shot records have to be submitted. This will lead you to the home inspections. During a home inspection, they are looking that you have ample space for the foster child(ren) and that your home is safe. The licensing worker will be looking for up-to-date smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. They will be looking for things such as your water heater to make sure the temperature could not burn a child. Before you are approved for licensure, they will need income verifications and letters of reference.
Does that sound daunting? It may sound like a lot of items to check off your list, but typically you already have most of those items in place. While you were in your classes, they probably had you start to think about what ages of foster children you would like to be placed with. The final step with your licensing worker is declaring what type of child you see fitting in your home. They will need to know if you can take children with special needs and if you would do respite for other children. They need to know the age range you prefer and if a boy or a girl would fit best within your family. They need to know your plans, such as short-term or long-term foster care or adoption. Once this step is complete, you wait (and wait and wait).
Getting the Call
Once your license goes through, more than likely, it will not be too long before you get a call. Caseworkers will pair a child or children that seem like a good match. Do not hesitate to say no. Ask a lot of questions about your potential placement. You need to feel comfortable in order to best help the children involved. Just be honest and open with your agency so that they can find children that are right for your family. Be flexible with the agency. You will need to meet with the caseworker before the child comes into your care. Once you say yes, you can arrange for the final step along with transfer/pick-up of your new foster child to love. How exciting!
Now that you have a new family member, learn and grow with that child. You will need to give her plenty of love and be sure to have plenty of patience as she adjusts to your home. Your new foster child is probably not as excited about the process as you are. Give him time. Devote your time to getting to know him. Show him you care. You were meant to come into her life.
Be excited! Learn from your experiences as a foster parent. Your life will change in an amazing way. Cherish every minute.
My name is Gina Francis. I am a single mom of two adopted, almost teenage, children named Mireya and Christopher. Our adoption story is one of those “meant to be” situations. My very first foster placement was for one beautiful little 4-year-old girl and one big-eyed, tiny 2-year-old boy. Both of whom were supposed to stay with me for two months. Nine years later, here we are now as an adoptive family of three! I am also a fourth grade teacher. We live in Central Illinois and are big fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. We even named our little Yorkipoo puppy, Yadi! The kids keep me pretty busy with all of their activities and sports; however, our favorite thing to do together is travel. One goal of mine is to see all 50 states with Mireya and Christopher before they are too old to take a trip with their mom. (But if I am paying, I am guessing they will be up for the trip at any age!) As adventurous as we are as a family, I am very excited to begin this new journey as a writer.