Providing foster care is similar to adopting a child and involves the same steps. A child that is placed in your foster care may remain with you for several months. The first step is to ensure that the child is safe and is given the love and assurance required to recoup from the stress and anxiety of being displaced from their birth family. The child continues to remain in your care till such time they are reunified with their parents again. This type of giving is especially rewarding even though it is a challenging role.
Children who are placed in foster care are those that have suffered some sort of abuse and required to be separated for a time from their parents. The child could have received emotional abuse or even physical or sexual abuse. Some children may be neglected and starving due to lack of food if the parent or parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Nearly all of them are returned to their homes once the crisis is dealt with and they are reunited with their birth families. If this is not a possibility then the State files for legal termination of the parental rights. Until all the ties have been severed legally from the biological parents, a child is not free to be adopted. The State will decide if the foster parents can adopt the child. If they are not able to adopt the child, then the State looks for foster parents who can adopt the child.
Providing foster care to the child
The foster carer should ensure that the child is well looked after and their medical, emotional and educational needs are met. In some cases the child may have been abused and require treatment and therapy to deal with the trauma.
The person providing the required care should be able to provide for the child. This includes not only food but also clothing. The State will reimburse the amount to the care giver based on standard rates.
The child may have to share a bedroom with other children in the home. Till they reach the age of six, male children may be allowed to share a bedroom with a female child. They should then be placed in different bedrooms due to natural concerns. The caseworker will provide the necessary details and ensure that you are doing the right thing by the child.
Every child that has suffered due to neglect and abuse from their parents requires reassurance. By providing a safe home, you help them deal with their trauma and try to build a relationship with them. They may not have the same resilience as other kids and the foster carer should spend time with the child and help them overcome their anxieties or cope with their stress.
Screening, training and licensing process
The foster parent or parents should fill the application form and send it to the foster agency. There is a waiting period during which time the caseworker will interview them, check their background details and verify if the information provided is genuine. The foster parents can specify the age range and also the number of children or siblings for whom they can provide a home.
A Home Study is conducted once the application is received and the foster carer begins to receive pre-service training. Children are in the legal custody of the State when they are under foster care. The problem with some foster parents is that they develop emotional ties with the child and find it difficult to give them up when they are ready to be united with their birth families again. They have the first option of adopting the child if the parents surrender their legal rights or if the State decides to legally sever all ties from the legal parents and agree to the adoption.
The person providing the foster care does not have to be a married person or a wealthy one. It is not necessary to be tied down to providing care for the child 24/7. You can hire a baby sitter to take care but make sure to hire one that is over 18 years old or as per the State’s ruling. If you suffer from problems such as burnout, the State even offers respite care where the child will be handed over to other foster parents for that duration.
During the waiting period, the foster parent can check out the local support group for foster care and adoption. Networking is also a good option as you will get encouragement and support from other foster parents. In the meantime, it is a good idea to become a community volunteer or a respite worker to get experience on caring for foster children. If, for some reason, the foster carer does not wish to take up this responsibility, they are at liberty to inform the foster care agency.