Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

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5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Foster Parent

You are considering fostering one or more children in the near future but feel like you need more information on the subject. Five things a potential foster parent should know before taking this giant step include the following truths:

Always Start Small

Before deciding to take on a sibling group of five, foster one child first. Get the feel for the paperwork, the process, and the responsibilities that it involves before adding even more children to your household. Decide on the age you are most comfortable with, and place your request. After you have gotten a good idea of what fostering more children will entail, slowly take on more children if that is your goal. Remember, they will require many doctor and dentist appointments as well as therapy and counseling, so you will be on the go often.

Always Involve All of Your Family Members in the Process

Fostering isn’t a decision to be made by just the parents. Involve other family members, so that they will understand what is going on and welcome these children with open arms. If you have other children, you must especially keep them in the loop, as they may have to share rooms, toys, and other items.

Understand That Acting Out or Regressing Can be a Cry for Help

Your foster children will be under a lot of stress when they arrive, so understand when they have melt-downs or retreat to a quiet corner of a closet. They may not know how to act in your household so give them time, patience, and plenty of love and attention until they become more comfortable and relaxed in their new and very unfamiliar surroundings.

It Takes Time to Bond

If you think your new child or children are going to lovingly call you “Mom” the day after they arrive, make their beds and clean their rooms every morning, and have perfect table manners, you will be in for a rude awakening. Realize that it will take time for them to adjust to your rules and requests. They may eat with their hands, sleep on the floor, or not want to bathe or shower. Take your time in teaching them these small processes, and let them also learn by the examples set by other members of the household. Remember that these children have been through a lot and give them the guidance and the assurances that they need every day.

Financial and Medical Assistance is Provided

Parents are paid to care for foster children in their homes. The amount will depend on the level of care that the child requires and the funds vary from state to state. If you foster a child with special needs, funds may be available to help you accommodate him in your home. Special requirements such as widened doorways, a ramp, or special rest room facilities may be funded by your state, so check into the process of requesting this help.

As you can see, becoming a foster parent is a huge challenge but is so worth the time, effort, and energy that you put into the process. Know that your actions will make the difference in the lives of the children you care for even if they are only with you for a short time.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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