While many people may know what foster care is, there are many misconceptions about it as well. According to the National Adoption Center at adopt.org, foster care is defined as “a temporary arrangement in which adults provide for the care of a child or children whose birthparent is unable to care for them.” Foster care is also something arranged by the courts and the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS, the actual name of the state agency usually differs a little from state to state). In addition, as a former foster care case manager myself, I know that foster care can actually extend until the child ages out at the age of 18 (or in some cases 21), so it may well not be temporary, although that would be ideal.
Many myths exist about foster care. People think that they have to be married, have children, are too old to foster, must be experienced parents, or would have to have at least one foster parent stay at home full-time (1). None of these are true, so if you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact your local DFCS agency for eligibility requirements. Don’t count yourself out!
The children in foster care have been abused or neglected, so foster families need to honor their stories, their experiences. Foster care parenting classes are provided by DFCS or by contracting agencies. Misconceptions include the widely held belief that these children are so traumatized or have so many behavioral problems that they are beyond help. However, children who fit these categories can change radically with love and support (2). There are many resources available for foster families effectively dealing with issues that may arise in these situations, so believe that you really can make a difference! And there are plenty of people out there to provide you any support you may need.
(1) “Myths and Facts About Foster Care,” A Child’s Hope International. www.thechildrenarewaiting.org.
(2)“Common Myths About Foster Care and Adoption,” KVC Health Systems. www.kvc.org. June 18, 2014.
Written by Nancy Hall.