Families come in many different forms today. There are families where children live with both of their parents, some children live with only one parent and visit the other on a court-appointed visitation schedule; still others split their time by living with one parent at a time for a designated time. There are also foster families where children live in a foster family program when their biological family cannot care for them.
What is a foster family?
Fostering a child in your family means to provide care for another child’s needs when their biological parents don’t or cannot provide it themselves. It is providing a caring environment for another child that is not legally or biologically your own to ensure that child has a safe place to grow and live. Creating a foster family for another child means you agree to take that child into your home for as long as they need protection, care and a place to live safely until situations in their life improve.
Most children live in a home where they are loved and provided with all the necessary things they need to stay safe and grow into adults. There are, unfortunately, situations where parents do not provide this environment for their child. Some parents do not provide proper care which puts the child in serious danger or times when parents abuse their child and the state will need to step in and remove the child from an unsafe living situation. When they find cause to remove a child from their home, they need families to ‘foster’ that child and provide for them the care they deserve. Someone to make sure they have a place to sleep, are fed nutritious meals, have clothes to wear and are taken to school. These children need someone who will provide them proper medical and dental attention and someone who will take care of them and show them they are important and have a place where they can live safe.
Why do children need foster homes?
Children who are found to be in homes that are not providing them a safe environment are removed by the state so that they can live in a home where they will be protected and safe. Many times the reason for their removal are caused by the parents being involved with drugs or alcohol. There are times a parent becomes too sick to provide care or have run into legal issues where they are sent to jail and the child needs to live in another home. There are some parents out there who need so much help to fix their own personal problems they just cannot focus on what their child’s need are.
Children stay with a foster family for as long as it takes for the parent to become emotionally and physically able to care for them again. Sometimes the situation can be taken care of overnight or for a short time until another relative can take over the care. Other times it may be indefinite and the child will remain in the foster care system until they become adults.
Who can foster a child?
Not just anyone can foster a child. To become a foster parent, one has to go through a screening to ensure the child does not go from one bad environment into another. Foster parents have to be proven responsible and have the means to provide a safe home and care for a child. There are no marital or age restrictions for becoming a foster parent as you can be single, married, divorced, old or young. What is important is what kind of person you are; are you responsible, caring, and able to physically and emotionally care for the needs of a child? Before a child is allowed to become your foster child they will check your home to ensure it is a safe environment and you will receive training to make sure you can provide proper care.
Foster care means changes for everyone
When a child has to go to a foster home it involves huge changes in everyone’s lives. The child is going to an unfamiliar place and to live with people they have most likely never met. For some, this is a good feeling as they know they are going someplace safe to be with someone who will take care of them. Others times it is very stressful as they will have to change schools and adjust to the foster families rules. There can be feelings of happiness knowing they are now with a loving foster family, and there can be sadness having lost the only family they’ve known up to now.
Caseworkers are assigned to help families through these situations. They are people who both the child and the foster family can talk to and receive help to deal with the changes as the family adjusts. The caseworker will make sure the child is receiving the proper care and is normally in charge of the biological parent’s progress to determine if the child can return to them. They will be staying in contact with the child throughout the foster home situation to ensure both the foster family and the child are dealing well with the new family structure.