Foster Care: What You Should Know
Foster care adoption is especially close to my heart because it provides a safe family for foster care children that might have been abused or neglected by their biological parents. My goal is to help you understand what to expect from foster parenting and for you to feel encouraged to go for it and not be afraid.
When you take your foster care training, the agency is very good at preparing you for what to expect. They’ll show you what you need to know about the child’s emotions and they’ll provide you with a caseworker. Most foster care agencies do well at helping foster parents as they start bringing children into their homes, and they’re there to answer any questions that you may have.
However, there are a few things that the agencies just don’t cover and that you won’t find out until the kids come into your home. In this blog post, we’re going to go over 7 things you should know when considering fostering.
1 – You may want to have a stash of clothes and shoes for the foster care child
A lot of times, the caseworker only gives the child so much time to collect their belongings when they are being taken from their parents’ homes. So oftentimes you won’t see these children with much clothing or pairs of shoes. It might be a good idea to obtain the age and sex of the child so you can pick up a few articles of clothing to have available for them to wear when they arrive.
2-You probably won’t know the foster child’s history when they come into your house
Many times the process is very quick, such as when they have to get the child out of a dangerous situation, take them to get examined and find a home that same night. If you’re that foster parent that accepts, you may not have much information about that child. They could have allergies to a plant, animal, or certain foods, and you might not know about these things for days down the line when the dust settles.
3- Visits with their biological parents
Foster care is about reuniting the child back to their biological family.
As a foster parent, your job is to provide a safe environment where the child can be a normal kid until they can go back home. That means visits with their biological parents are usually very traumatic experiences. From the child’s point of view, they were at home with their mom and dad, one day a police officer comes into their home, takes them out of their home to a strange place to be examined, and then drops them off at a stranger’s home.
It’s impossible to expect a child in that situation to not have any tantrums, behave well all the time, and listen to you. They, like anyone, will have trouble processing those emotions. It’s important to be aware that you will probably see behaviors escalate after visits from their biological parents. It’s nothing to be scared about, just something to be prepared for.
4- The foster care caseworker is on your side
Whichever foster care agency that you signed up for and are licensed through, their caseworker is there to help you. So make sure that you lean on that caseworker because they want to help you succeed. Make sure to build a great relationship with the person that wants you to be the best foster care parent that you can be.
It makes a huge difference when the person, as a caseworker that you are assigned to, is communicating with you to let you know what’s going on in the child’s life. It makes the caseworker’s job easier when they know what sports or activities the child would like to be enrolled in, and any other bit of information. It’s in everyone’s benefit to have a good relationship with your caseworker.
5- Time commitment
Before you become a foster care parent, it’s difficult to imagine how much time you will need to commit to a foster child. For example, you’ll have to make sure the child is getting all the medical care that they need. They might have never been to the doctor to get their eyes checked, to the dentist, or they might have a mental health issue that has never been diagnosed. Part of what you do as a foster parent is to make sure they are up to date on their medical needs. You might not realize how much time it takes to get them to all their doctor appointments, not to mention taking and picking them up from school every weekday.
6- Medicaid pays for nearly everything
Whether it be the doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, or any other healthcare professional, Medicaid will pay for surgeries, braces, and nearly anything else. Every foster care child comes with their own Medicaid card and number, and it covers everything so you don’t have to worry or stress about those costs.
Your foster care child’s school expenses are also covered, and that includes daycare and school lunches. The state tries to make it as easy as possible to be a foster parent. What you’ll be giving is your time commitment and your emotional energy to invest in them while they are in your home.
When you have a foster child come into your home, you’ll want to share them with people. You want people to love them and hug them, and that’s part of being a parent. But just remember that with these children, they don’t know you and need to get used to you. So when your family members and other people involved in their case visits them, I would encourage you to gauge how they are they are doing when it comes to visitors. Is it too much for them? Do you need to back off a little bit? You don’t want them to feel overwhelmed with all these new people in their lives. Try to read their emotions and facial expressions if you can, and if you see that something is getting too much for them, try to give them some room to breathe. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
Here are a few bonus tips and tricks to help you along your foster parent journey:
When your foster care child is coming into your home, a great idea is to get a little canvas containing the first initial of their first name. You can let them paint the canvas themselves to put in their room so they can own it and feel like it’s their special place. Or just doing any little thing that you can to make them feel like they are in control of something in their lives, that they are special, and they have their own space.
Are you already a foster parent ready to adopt your foster child? Then schedule a call with me today!