If you’re looking to pursue foster care and just don’t know where to start, I have a few steps to get you going in the right direction. As a foster, adoptive, and biological mama, I know first hand what an impact your obedience can make for a child in the foster care system and for your family. I am so thankful for you and your heart!
Currently in the United States, there is a huge influx of children entering foster care due to the recent surge of illegal drug use. There are children all across the country tonight sleeping on the floors of foster care agencies while the workers plead with foster homes to take “just one more” or a child that is outside of their criteria.
Here are 7 tips to help you start your foster care journey.
1. Attend an informal meeting.
Agencies offer these a few times a year. This will help you get a feel for foster care in your state and help you decide if you’d like to foster through the state or through a private agency.
2. Talk with other foster families in your area.
If you don’t know any, ask your local agency to connect you with someone. You can also join foster parent Facebook groups for your county or region. The agency meetings are very informative, but chatting with local foster parents gives you a true, unbiased opinion of the agency and what it really is like.
3. Choose an agency and attend the trainings.
After you choose an agency or county, you’ll attend preservice trainings. The number of hours required varies state-to-state, but you can find that information with a quick Google search.
4. Begin to prepare your home.
During your preservice trainings, you can begin to prepare your home. (Read more on that here and here) Again, the rules and laws vary greatly from state-to-state and even county-to-county. However, a lot of regulations are generally the same! You’ll get your exact requirements at some point during your licensing process.
5. Decide which profile of children you plan to take.
If applicable, it’s a good idea to begin discussing with your spouse what profile of children you will take. Yes, you can specify this! This will look different for everyone. Are you open to babies? Older children? Fire starting? Sexually abused? Physical disabilities? Daily medication? The list is endless. The bottom line is you have to be comfortable with the situations that you take on. If you take on more than you’re comfortable with, you’re doing yourself, the child, and the foster care system a disservice. It’s essential to be on the same page as your spouse so that when those calls come in, you know the answer.
6. Prepare your family and friends.
Fostering is an extended family commitment and quite frankly it makes some people very uncomfortable. You might not have a great relationship with your extended family and that is okay. However you do need to think about who your support system will be… and you will need them! Think through friends, coworkers, church members, etc. You preservice classes are a great way to meet other foster parents as well; you can really lean on each other.
7. Start the home study process.
This is sometimes a long process and is fairly detailed, as it should be. You’ll be interviewed by a caseworker multiple times, fill out tons of paperwork, have your doctor sign off, provide proof of income (just proof that you can pay you bills and aren’t fostering for the money…which I have never understood because the money is very little!), have a home inspection, a fire inspection, and so much more. Again, each agency is different, but you get the general idea.
If you’re considering fostering, I would encourage you to talk to your spouse and look into it! Start with step number one, attend an informational meeting. There is no pressure and no commitment, but it’s a great first step to living your life on purpose.
This post originally appeared at Mankins Party of Seven, published with permission.