The role of a foster parent is extremely important and valuable for a foster child. Foster parenting can be a life changing experience for both the caregiver as well as the child. Since foster caring means shouldering some serious responsibilities and handling a child with a traumatized or painful past, therefore this chance is not provided to all and this responsibility is not bestowed on just about anybody.
Concerned authorities make sure that the applicant or interested person is suitable for being given the responsibility of a foster child. For the same purpose certain steps or processes (such as screening, training and licensing) have been put into effect that an interested person has to go through before becoming a foster parent. Read ahead and learn more about the steps involved in becoming a foster parent.
Steps To Become A Foster Parent
Making the Decision
The very first step of becoming a foster parent starts with you. Becoming a foster parent is no petty thing. It needs one to be very responsible and committed. The responsibilities of a foster parent are huge. It might be emotionally strenuous for a person to care for a foster child. But at the same time becoming a foster parent can be hugely rewarding in terms of mental satisfaction. It surely feels great to know and realize that you can provide a safe, secured and healthy environment to a child who is in need of such a home very badly. Many times the bonding created with the foster child is strong enough to remain intact for a lifetime which is one of the major rewards of being a foster parent. So think well, be sure, decide for it and prepare yourself before you start off with the formalities of becoming a foster parent.
Meeting the Criteria
The criteria of becoming a foster parent varies from state to state. But mostly the general factors remain the same. You must be at least 21 years of age. Some states also have a cap on the maximum age limit as per which a person above the age of 65 years is not eligible for foster parenting. You must have sufficient space for allocating the foster child. While some states are strict of the child being provided a separate room, some others insist on the child being provided with a separate bed and storage space. The marital status does not hold much importance here.
Neither is having child-rearing experience mandatory (though mostly it is preferable). Along with that, authorities want to make sure that the caregiver is physically and mentally sound and can give needed care to the foster child. You must also be able to care for your own family financially. And most importantly your home must meet the minimum safety standards decided by the state.
Contacting a Local Agency
If you meet the state-specified criteria of becoming a foster parent then the next step would be to contact a local agency. You can contact the state Division of Social Services and get an information packet from there wherein you will get all the information regarding foster parenting and instructions as to how to proceed further and get license of becoming a foster parent. Thereafter, you may need to attend an orientation session held by the local agency.
Applying for Becoming a Foster Parent
You have to apply for becoming a foster parent. The application should contain all the needed information which the foster care agency will screen and decide on your suitability for taking up the responsibility of a foster child.
If the foster care agency finds you suitable for being a foster parent then they will organize a training program for you which you must undergo. The training period will be approximately of 30 hours divided into 10 weeks. A number of topics would be covered in this training such as dealing with children, dealing with a traumatized or aggressive child, how to be a good parent, how to handle a child with special needs and also how to coordinate with the foster care agency while taking care of a foster child.
Home Study by the Agency
Once your application is able to satisfy the foster care agency of your suitability and while you are undergoing training to become a good foster parent, the agency will conduct a home study. It is very important to make sure that the child who is placed with you receives a good, caring and safe environment. For this very purpose social workers from your local agency would meet you and your family at your home and find out if you are actually ready to be a foster parent.
During their investigation they would check your and your family’s criminal records through fingerprint verification, talk to every member in your family (not to mention including you), conduct a thorough reference check of you and your family as well as conduct safety inspections to make sure that the specified safety measures are being taken care of by you. This process might take time and might even take as long as a few months.
Approval by The Agency
Once you complete the training successfully and the home study too goes smoothly without any hitches, you would receive approval from the agency and become a certified foster parent.
Receiving Foster Placement
The last step of becoming a foster parent is receiving a foster placement. The foster care agency will find a suitable match or placement for you and place him/her at your home. You might be given the responsibility of one child or a sibling group.
Becoming a foster parent requires a lot of patience, time and hard work even before you receive a foster placement. The entire process starting from contacting a foster care agency to receiving a foster placement can take as long as a year. Becoming a foster parent and fulfilling the responsibilities after becoming a foster parent is not easy. But guidance, support and help is always available for a foster parent. So, go ahead and change a child’s life for the better, something for which you will always be proud of yourself.