Deciding to become a foster parent is not easy. There are a lot of things to consider. It’s a decision that not only affects the foster child, but also the lives of you, your family members and other important people in your life.
There are many reasons why children go into foster care. Sometimes, they lack a positive adult role model in their lives. Their parents may be dealing with illness, addictive issues or are simply not around anymore. Other times, the child may have some physical, mental or emotional health issues that they are dealing with.
There is no specific length of time as to how long a foster child will be in your home. Lisa Witter from www.perpetualfostering.co.uk explains that carers can decide how long the foster child stays with them. While certain placements may have a specific duration, most carers should be as flexible with their time as possible. This is something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent.
There are several qualifications required to become a foster carer, which are:
1. You must be a legal adult.
Most states require that foster parents must be of legal age before they are even considered. Legal age is usually 18 or 21 years of age, depending on the state. You should also consider your own personal situation and maturity before applying.
2. Regular income.
There is no specific regular income that you need to be making to become a foster parent. Most officials will just want to see that you are earning enough to support your family. They may require copies of pay stubs, utility bills or tax returns. This helps them to see if you are able to properly support the foster child and provide food, clothes and other basic necessities for them.
3. You must be able to pass a criminal background check.
There are many reasons why all states require a criminal background check before you can be approved to be a foster parent. They want to ensure that the child will be placed in a stable home environment. They will not place children with parents or families with a history of violence or trouble with the law. Take the time to carefully read the rules and regulations for your state. If there is something in your past that you’re concerned about, check the statute of limitations. Minor infractions are usually not an issue, especially if it’s been five to ten years or more since the incident occurred.
4. You should be in overall good health.
While there are no specific health conditions that can prevent you from becoming a foster parent, the general rule of thumb is that you should be in overall good health. You need to be healthy enough to be able to meet the foster children’s needs. Some officials may ask for a letter from your health care provider or physician stating that you are in good health or are capable enough to care for children. They are looking at this more in terms of your mental rather than your physical health capacity. If you have pre-existing health conditions that are being regulated with medication or other regular treatment, your physical health should not be an issue.
5. Access to transportation.
You don’t need to be a licensed driver to be considered as a foster parent. You just need to have reliable access to transportation. If you are planning to drive, you must have a reliable vehicle, a valid license and current auto insurance. Certain states may ask for proof of access to local buses, subways, taxis or other methods of transportation. They want to make sure that any foster children who would be in your home are able to get to school, doctor’s appointments and other places without problems.
6. You need an approved home study.
The county or agency that you are working with will require an approved home study before you can be licensed as a foster parent. The assessor will visit you and your family at your home. They will probably ask a lot of personal questions, so don’t be intimidated by that. Just take your time to answer their questions honestly. They want the assurance that the child will be living in a good home and knowing more about you can help with their decision.
These are the basic requirements for becoming a foster parent. You don’t need to be married and you don’t need to take parenting classes to be considered. You don’t have to be a legal resident. You just have to be able to effectively communicate with the foster child. Most people shouldn’t have to worry, and the process should be relatively worry-free. If you do have any questions or concerns, address them with the individual or department that you are working with. Being a foster parent is a wonderful way to give a child an opportunity for a better life. It can also enrich and enhance your family life in ways that you probably never dreamed to be possible.