How do I Become a Foster Parent?

wiseGEEK Writer

When a person wishes to become a foster parent, he/she should start by checking local agencies to find out how to qualify. Qualifications tend to vary, and foster parents must complete training and submit to background checks before being approved. There are a few things that are usually always required for the person who wants to become a foster parent, though requirements vary by state.

Foster parents on a walk with their foster children.
Foster parents on a walk with their foster children.

Some standard requirements include:

A foster parent takes care of a child until an adoption takes place.
A foster parent takes care of a child until an adoption takes place.

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  • Space in a home including a bed (or crib) to offer a foster child
  • A home that is considered safe (not a fire danger or hazard) by the state
  • Minimum age (usually 21) to become a foster parent
  • A background free of criminal behavior or current abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Emotional stability
  • Adequate funds to care for current family members so that the state can be assured the person is not foster parenting to supplement income

As mentioned, those who want to be foster parents usually must go through training seminars, which may not qualify all people for the same types of kids. Extra training might be needed if a person wants to foster kids with special needs or those considered emotionally disturbed. This really does depend on state requirements and in some states, history or background of the child is less of a consideration than is finding someplace for the child to go. Unfortunately, there are many more children that need foster care than those who provide it.

Many people want to know how to handle the emotional difficulties that occur when they become a foster parent. Foster parents do have to learn how to love kids, and then be prepared to give them up. They sometimes go right back into the same situations that previously endangered them and that can be a difficult thing for foster parents to take when they’ve formed emotional bonds with kids. Involvement in foster parent support groups and close work with social workers may help answer questions of potential foster parents and help prepare them for tough emotional times.

There are more than a few people who want to become foster parents because they’d really like to adopt kids. Although there are foster to adopt programs, emotional investment of hoping to adopt a child can make things even more difficult. The goal of most foster care programs is to reunite kids with their parents, and foster care programs may not be interested in working with those who are really interested in trying to keep the kids they foster. If interested in fostering to adopt, look for those programs specific to this goal.

More resources exist for the person planning to become a foster parent. Start with state agencies and foster care programs that are local to find out the qualifications. Also, most foster parents recommend reading plenty of great books on this subject. Furthermore, look to Internet sites devoted to foster parenting and support groups that can help answer questions about this selfless gift a person can give to one child or many.

Foster parenting is one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake since foster children require a great deal of attention and understanding.
Foster parenting is one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake since foster children require a great deal of attention and understanding.

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