A foster parent cares for children who have been removed from their birth parents home by the state due to concerns for their safety or well-being. Before you can become a foster parent, you must be licensed and/or certified by the state in which you live.
The process for becoming a foster parent varies from state to state, but generally involves extensive training and a thorough background check. The training is usually free of charge, however, there are often expenses associated with other necessary qualifications, such as for:
- A criminal record clearance;
- Application fees;
- CPR training
- First aid certification; and
- Other health screenings.
In addition, there may be certain costs that must be paid once you have been licensed. Typically, these expenses only amount to a few hundred dollars altogether.
Payments to foster parents
Foster parents are given a monthly subsidy by the state for feeding and clothing the foster child and for paying for any other essential needs the child may have. The amount of this subsidy will vary from state to state and county to county and can be anywhere from $400 to $900 per child, per month.
Foster parents who provide specialized or emergency care are often given higher monthly subsidies. This can mean an increase of $100 – $900 per month, depending on the needs of the child. Medical and dental insurance is provided for the child by the state.
Foster parenting expectations
Foster parents must provide a stable and supportive home for a child while the issues with their birth parents are being worked out, or until a permanent home can be found for them with a relative or through adoption.
Quite often, a child who has been removed from their birth parents home has been subjected to neglect, abuse, or exploitation. Because of these experiences, the child may have severe emotional issues and be under the care of both doctors and mental health professionals. Furthermore, many foster children lag behind in school, have trouble in the classroom, and need educational support.
A foster parent is a member of a team that supports and cares for the child until they are reunited with their birth parents or until a more permanent solution can be found. This team normally consists of, the foster parents, the social worker, and often the juvenile court system.
As a member of this team, a foster parent should be willing to participate in any team meetings related to a child and their care, and to work with and accept assistance from social workers and other child welfare professionals who may be more familiar with the child’s circumstances and have a better understanding of the child’s needs.
Your role as the primary caregiver is to provide the physical and emotional support and encouragement that the child needs on a daily basis. You will also be expected to keep accurate records and documentation, and report to social workers and other child welfare professionals on a regular basis.
Foster parenting can be challenging, it requires a great deal of patience, understanding, and commitment. But for those who are up for the challenge, it is a public service of the highest order and one of the greatest gifts that you can give to a child in need.