One of the joys of becoming a foster parent is to take care of some unfortunate child or children, who have been abused, neglected or exploited and require temporary care out of their present surroundings. Caretakers will be allowed to offer their homes to such children after preference is given to relatives.
Foster parents require obtaining a license in order to provide a foster home. One of the licensing workers will visit the home and interview you and the family members. Foster parents should ensure that they can provide the required space, personal safety and other requirements as specified by the state. The juvenile court will be handling these cases as these children come under their jurisdiction.
Here are some tips on becoming a foster parent and caring for a neglected child
1. Contact a foster care agency in your area to start the process
Check out a foster care agency in your area. The state generally administers this process and each state has their set of rules. You may have to attend an orientation course to help you understand the process.
2. Know the clauses for becoming a foster parent
Many of us feel that we cannot opt to foster a child if we are unmarried or do not own our own home. A good foster care agency will let you in on the details if you are interested in fostering a child. The age is not a criterion and it is not necessary for you to be a stay-at-home mom or a wealthy one in order to start the application process.
3. Attend parent training classes before you start the application process
One of the most important factors is to learn as much as you can about taking care of children who have gone through a rough time in their own homes. There is no fee for attending though you will have to attend all the classes and these may run into 4 to 10 weeks depending on the state.
4. Paper work has to be scrupulously completed
Fill out the application forms diligently. If you are holding a job, you will have to verify your income through the employer. Some of the expenses will be reimbursed to you when you are raising the child. Your background will be checked to ensure that you will prove to be a good role model for the child. Make sure to fill in all details of age, address and accompany these with the birth certificate and other reference letters as required.
5. Build up a good rapport with the caseworker
The case worker will require information about your honesty and motivation for becoming a foster parent. Be open and state the many experiences that you have had in bringing up children or giving the care that they need. Provide the necessary information and documents that are required and honor their request to remain confidential about the family details of the foster child. They may carry out a background check and request permission to inspect your home. Be amicable and friendly as it is always a good idea to respond and be on the good side of the case worker.
6. Are you capable of bringing up a foster child?
Are you mature enough to ensure stability to your foster child? You should be able to set good examples and be sensitive to your child’s needs. Be there for them and involve your welfare worker or members of your family when you provide a sanctuary and love to the child placed in your care.
7. Document the information for home study
Some states require a home study document for learning about your family history. Your case worker will interview you for a period of three to six months and jot down details such as education, employment, personal relationships, social life, parenting experiences and the type of neighborhood you live in. Answer all these questions honestly as it will be recorded in the home study.
8. Be patient and try to learn as much as you can about foster parenting
Since the waiting period could be up to a year it is a good time to learn about the issues that foster children generally face and try to get advice from other people who have offered their home and hearts to such children. You will get many case histories and learn how to cope when it is your turn.
9. Be prepared to give up your foster child when the time comes
You may develop a bond when you adopt a foster child. Nearly 50% of the time, the children are reunited with their birth families and this may affect your happiness. Your case worker will keep you informed on the progress of the case and in some cases you may be able to adopt the child if the birth parents sever the legal rights officially.
10. You can opt out of offering foster care at the last minute
In case you have second thoughts when the time comes to accept the foster child, do not hesitate to back out of this placement. This will give you peace of mind in case you suddenly realize the enormity of the decision and feel you cannot go through the process
11. Welcome your foster child in your home
Prepare a room for your foster child and buy the essentials required for the first two days. Once the child is settled in you can plan to buy the essentials required for a comfortable stay at your place. Give your child the love and attention they need and offer them a secure place in your heart and home. Since you know that their stay is temporary you can be patient and let that know that you have only the best intentions when caring for them.
12. Take care of your health
Be prepared emotionally and psychologically to take care of your child. If necessary, hire baby sitters and ensure that you get enough rest in order to avoid burn-out. Your case worker will enlighten you on ways to seek reimbursement and medical aid for your foster child.