Please stop saying things like “I can’t be a foster parent because it would be too hard to let them go” or “I can’t be a foster parent because I would get too attached”. There are many legit reasons not foster but caring too much isn’t one of them. I truly believe you have the right intentions. You are offending foster children everywhere by saying foster children are not worthy of your love. You also just made the foster parent you just said that to feel like you think they are heartless. Foster children need people to get attached. The number one job of a foster parent is to love and care for them. Yes, saying good bye is heartbreaking. However, they need to feel happiness and a home just like any other child. Fostering is a journey that is not meant for everyone. Below is a brief list of 10 things that I feel would be acceptable to come after the phrase, “I can’t be a foster parent because…”
- I feel called to do something instead (mission work, travel the world, church ministry, etc).
- I don’t want kids.
- I don’t want anymore kids right now.
- My beloved dog/cat doesn’t do well with kids.
- I don’t have time.
- My kids are all grown and I am enjoying not having kids in the house.
- I couldn’t handle all of the doctors appointments, caseworker visits, therapy appointments, etc.
- This isn’t the right time for me right now but I plan to in the future.
- I just don’t want to (that’s a perfectly fine excuse).
I would like to include ten things that are not on my list. (All of the below things are not reasons not to foster).
- I am not married.
- I don’t own a house.
- I work full time.
- I have young kids.
- I have older kids.
- I don’t have any kids.
- I have pets
- I don’t want to adopt.
- I can only afford my self right now (ask a DCFS worker about financial what support is provided and what costs the state is responsible for)
- I am not sure how to become a foster parent (Look it up! Google is your best friend)
There are many many reasons not to foster and all of them are valid. But if the only reason you can think of is because you are afraid of getting hurt or loving a child who isn’t yours maybe you should consider fostering.
I am lucky. I have a truly wonderful support system. Fostering takes a whole community so here is a list of things that you can do to support a foster parent. Not all these things are possible for everyone but
- Listen to them. Sometimes as a foster parent we don’t feel like we have a “right” to complain since we chose this. Let the foster parent in your life know it’s okay to vent to you.
- Watch the kids. In some states this might mean that you have to background check but let them know you are willing to begin the process.
- Come over and help out. Maybe you don’t want to babysit, so offer to go over to their house and be an extra hand. The week after I received a placement of two kids (ages 22 months and 8 at the time) was my foster sons 10th birthday and I promised him we could go to six flags. I had friends offer to come with so that he had an adults to ride rides with while I stayed with the almost two year old.
- Bring food. Those first couple weeks of having a new placement are stressful. The less a foster parent has to worry about those first weeks the more they can focus on the kids.
- Offer to be the person they call to go run out and pick things up. A foster parent may only have an hour it is always great to have people available to go to the store and pick up diapers or clothes so they can wait for the children.
- Donate your children’s old clothes/baby gear. I have a basement full of different sizes of clothes and toys. It is great to be able to go downstairs and grab things I need. It takes a little bit of the stress away.
- Do laundry/clean the house. During a really stressful week my mom came over and did all my laundry. It was never something I would ask for but it allowed me to focus on the kids who needed me.
- Offer carpool. I spend a lot of time in the car driving to different appointments. If you could take my child to swim lessons this week so I can stay home and wash my dishes, I would be forever grateful.
- Invite them to go places with you. I went from a single women to a parent in the blink of an eye. I appreciated when coworkers or acquaintances invited me to do kid related activities with them.
- Love the kids. Seriously though! I am over joyed by how my family and friends have treated my foster children as part of the family. They give them gifts, and write them letters, and include them in everything we do. It’s the little things that countS
Meeting with a licensing worker for the first time is very intimidating. Have a list of questions ready and take notes.
- What do you need to do to become a foster parent? This is different for every state and even every county. This usually includes getting your house ready, getting a letter from your doctor, getting a background check, and taking a pride class. Make sure you make a list of everything you need to do to keep track.
- Are you qualified to be a foster parent? Though most everyone can be a foster parent there are some things that could prevent you from becoming a foster parent like having a felony or not being medically cleared to take care of children.
- How many children can you foster in your home? This is usually dependent of the size of the bedrooms and how many beds you can have. I would wait till the licensing worker measures the rooms before you go ahead and purchase beds and cribs.
- What age and gender of children can you have? This is dependent on the set up of your house and whether or not you have biological children who will share a room with them.
- What do you need to have set up before you are licensed? Most states require all of the beds and cribs to be set up before you get licensed.
- What do you need to change about your home? You might need to lock up medication, baby proof, lock up your guns, change your water temperature, or put a fence around your pool, etc
- What is my role as a foster parent? Do you have to transport a visit? What are you required to document? Make sure your licensing worker fully covers everything you are required to do.
- What are the guidelines? Make sure you understand all of the rules about discipline, confidentiality, supervision of foster children, as well as all other guidelines your state has. It is important to have a strong understanding of the rules before your first placement.
- What are the next steps? Make sure you have a good understanding of how a child will be placed in your care.
- Are there any children in need now? Sometimes licensing workers know of children that are in need of a home right away and they can place a child with you as soon as you are licensed: