Can you imagine not knowing where you will lay your head at night? While this may be hard for you to picture, this is the case for many foster children today. There is a tremendous need for families who are willing to open their doors and provide a place of comfort, stability and solace for kids who may not know where they will be sleeping next.
Becoming a foster parent is a big decision. Your heart may be leading you and your family in that direction, while your mind is thinking: How?
To help sort out this important information, we turned to Adult & Child Foster Care in Indianapolis to provide answers to some of the commonly asked questions about fostering.
What is my role as a foster parent?
Foster parents provide a safe, nurturing and usually temporary home for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. Foster parents care for children, with a goal to help them safely reunify with their families.
Why is there a great need for foster families?
There are many reasons more families are needed. It is common for current foster families to reach the state’s allowable “maximum” capacity, and not be able to take additional children. In addition, the more families available, the greater the likelihood we can place siblings together. And, the more diverse our foster family base is, the better we can match a child’s needs to a family. The more families we have dispersed throughout our service areas, the more likely we can place children in or near their own communities and avoid disrupting positive familiar connections for the child, like schools, peers and positive role models.
Who can become a licensed foster parent?
Following are the minimum standards that a home must meet in order to become a licensed therapeutic foster home with Adult & Child:
- Parents must be at least 25 years of age
- Parents must be able to financially support themselves without public assistance
- All residents of the household, age 18 and older, must pass local, state, national criminal background checks, and all household members must have clear Child Protective Services checks
- Parents must have reliable and insured transportation, as well as a valid driver’s license
- Your home must have sufficient bedroom space.
[At Adult & Child Foster Care], we license a wide variety of foster parents because we believe this diversity will provide the best placements for kids. We encourage and support foster parents regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender.
How long does it take to become a licensed foster parent?
The licensing process typically takes two to three months. It is driven by your engagement in the process.
What should I expect after my license is approved?
Our goal is to match your home to the child whose needs and profile are the best fit. We use a specialized matching process when placing foster children. Recognizing that every child is unique, and has unique needs, we work to match the child with staff and families who are best prepared to meet those needs.
Can you describe the “typical” foster child?
Children in foster care are as diverse and unique as the children living in your community. They are individuals of varying likes, dislikes, ethnic backgrounds, talents, interests, intellect and needs. The common thread that links children in foster care is their exposure to trauma which usually leads to psychological, emotional, and/or behavioral challenges. Their response to abuse and/or neglect is a shift in their brain’s perception to survive in a hazardous world. Children who have shifted into this “survival” mode will take a great deal of effort and nurturing to help them feel safe and secure.
I already have children. How will fostering impact them?
Children are impacted in very different ways, depending on the age of your child, sensitivity to change, resilience, capacity to share, gender and even their own special needs. Some children are very receptive to new children coming into your home and others may need time to adjust to the impact that adding another child creates. This sometimes disrupts the birth-order (age sequence or rank) of your own children, when a foster child enters the family.
Children who are excited to be a foster family during the application process may not be fully prepared for the reality of sharing their space, belongings and family (parents, siblings and extended family). They may need time to adapt to their new foster sibling, just as an “only child” would need to learn their role as “the oldest” when a newborn sibling arrives. With time, they will develop bonded relationships that are similar to that of stepsiblings (including normal feelings of care, concern, jealousy, anger, joy and sibling defense).
It is imperative that your children have a voice in the decision to be a foster family. They should also be included in selecting the matching criteria of children you would like to provide care for (such as age range, gender, etc.).