Is Foster Care Right for You and Your Family?
Many are wondering what the steps are to becoming a foster parent but, before embarking upon that learning process, you must first determine if foster care is right for you and your family. In fact, the number of foster care children currently in the system is 437,465. These same statistics point out that, this number is an increase of 2.3% and it's experienced an increase annually since 2012.
About the Foster Care System
The problem with these statistics is not only the large number but also the fact that many of the children age out of foster care before having the chance to be adopted. What this means is they’ll become too old for adoption, go out on their own into the world, and fail to develop any meaningful family connections. One out of every four youths who age out of foster care throughout the New York City area have an increased chance of spending time in homeless shelters over the next three years.
Should These Numbers Influence Your Family?
No matter if you're thinking about becoming a foster parent or deciding if you should adopt, your family is fulfilling a significant need and helping a child in desperate need of a nurturing, loving, and secure home. For those who are wondering if this is right, here are some questions to help guide them along the way.
Do You Have the Right Foster Care Resources Available?
It isn't necessary to be wealthy to become a foster care parent, but it is essential to have wiggle room in your budget and extra room in your home. Every state has their own privacy rules regarding foster care. For example, fifteen states have a minimum requirement of square footage per foster care child, while eighteen other states place caps on the number of children there are allowed per bedroom. Therefore, when thinking about the laws in your state, consider the best ways you can accommodate the foster children. Remember, when setting up their room or space in another bedroom, helping children feel at home is a top priority of any parent but especially for foster children.
Have I considered Fostering or Adoption More Than the Other?
Federal data indicates that the average age of a child in foster care is eight years old. Therefore, there's a growing need for adoption of youths and teens in the foster care network. However, this doesn't mean those who are foster parents have the requirement to eventually adopt or feel pressured to adopt if it's not right for their family. However, under most circumstances, they'll see older children coming into their homes for care in comparison to toddlers and babies.
Will a Strong Support Network be Available?
One of the most crucial elements of becoming a foster parent is the establishment of a support system. Remember, helping children feel at home is a top priority of any parent but especially for foster children and this is better achieved through the development of a support system. When you have family and friends to talk to or fall back on when life gets difficult, it makes things less of a struggle when issues arise.
Do You Possess the Traits of a Successful Foster Parent?
If you're flexible, good-natured, cheerful, patient, and open-minded, then you're helping ensure the foster child's time in your home is more positive, and that your family's experience is good as well. Under most circumstances, the foster parent's primary goal is to work with the agency to maintain a connection with the child's biological family. In doing so, it will significantly reduce the child's instances of trauma.
Can You Determine How Fostering Will Affect The Family?
Because the development of a loving and stable environment is crucial for foster care, it's essential that you talk to every member of your household regarding this decision. In doing so, you're ensuring everyone is on board and in agreement about why you would like to do this. When integrating a foster child into the home environment, it's critical that they have their own space, privacy, their own toys, and that any time for activities are planned together with both the parents and child’s input.
When people ask other foster parents what they believe is the biggest benefit is when making their decision, many will answer that they've shared something that's bigger than they are with someone else. Under most circumstances, the other children in the household will grow up and look back upon the experiences with appreciation.
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