In the previous few articles we’ve detailed some of the most important aspects of what foster care is. But it’s also important to talk about what foster care isn’t, and address some of the false information about it head on. Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths that surround foster care agencies, foster care kids, and foster care parents.
Myth: Foster Care Usually Leads to Adoption
The main goal of foster care is to get children back with their biological parents or relatives once they can prove that they are fit to care for the child. Foster care is intended to be a temporary solution so that the biological parents can get their lives back in order. More than half of foster children are in the care of someone who isn’t their parent for less than two years.
For some people interested in becoming a foster parent, this news might come as a relief. The potential foster family might not be interested in caring for a child long-term, and only wish to help them through a short, trying time.
For others, this debunked myth might come as a disappointment. They might be interested in using the foster process as a predecessor to adoption, but that’s not usually the case. While foster care adoption does occur in some situations, it certainly can’t be counted on. The recovery of the biological parent is the biggest deciding factor in the process, and a foster child could be moved with very little notice with no talk of adoption.
Myth: The Kids Are All Bad
Without a doubt, most kids in foster care have had a tougher time in life than they should have, especially considering their young age. But the ways that these kids react can be infinite. Some will become more silent, some will be more scared, some will yearn to be back with their parents, and some will go on as if nothing in their lives has changed. There will be some who show aggressive tendencies, but those might go to more seasoned foster families (You will always be informed about your foster child’s personality before taking custody of them.)
In the end, most children are simply looking for a loving relationship with their new foster family. They’ll need a stable environment which includes good meals and a quiet place to sleep. Many have never known such treatment, and they’ll simply be grateful for the positive effect you can play in their life.
Myth: The Kids Are In Trouble With The Law
This one is similar to the previous point, but it’s different enough that we want to point it out.
When it comes to foster care, it’s not any sort of punishment. The kids have done nothing wrong in this scenario…it’s the parents who are negligent in some way. So the kids being helped by a foster care agency aren’t in trouble in any way; they’re not on their way to jail or a juvenile detention center. They’re the ones who need help.
Myth: There’s Substantial Abuse In The Foster Care System
We’ve all heard about the horror stories that have occurred in the foster system. Sometimes it’s a news story, other times it’s just impressions that you’ve gotten from movies and television.
The fact is, the bad news you hear about foster families is usually a sampling error. A shark attack makes the news for the sole reason that sharks seldom attack people. In the same way, stories of foster care abuse often become sensationalized for one simple reason: it fills up time on 24-hour news channels.
In truth, the families that become foster care providers are well-vetted and investigated. There are check-ups with the parents and the children to ensure that everything is still going well. If we don’t think someone will make a good foster parent, we’re not going to risk it.
Myth: They’re Not Worth Saving
Okay, let’s get rid of this one right here. Foster kids might come from a rough background, but each and every one of them has the right to be given a chance. As we’ve been saying, none of the problems they’ve experienced have been their fault.
Without a foster home, there is higher chance that the children will end up having trouble. But with a foster home, they see a stranger selflessly offer up their home, and they see that there is good in the world. They can get a better perspective on their biological parent’s abuse, whether it is substance abuse or physical abuse, and make the decision to not be like that. But they need a safe place in order to get that perspective.
Myth: You Have To Be Young To Be A Foster Parent
Without a doubt, keeping up with kids take a lot of energy. But we know of a lot of 50-year-olds with the energy it takes to keep up with our kids!
As we mentioned in our previous blog, one of the most common types of foster families includes someone who is an empty nester. Their kids might be grown, but they still have a lot of love when it comes to taking care of youngsters. About 20% of foster kids live with a foster parent who is over 50 years old. Age doesn’t matter as much as a loving heart does.
Myth: It Will Be A Huge Financial Burden
You don’t have to be rich in order to become a foster parent. As long as you can support yourself and any other family members living with you, you will be considered. it doesn’t even matter if you own or rent your home, or if you live in an apartment.
Foster families receive a payment every month to pay for the cost of keeping a foster child, which covers food and clothing. While foster families tend to spend a little more in order to include the child on family outings and other incidentals, the payment usually takes care of all of the necessities.
We hope these busted myths have made it easier for you to consider becoming a foster parent. Contact Contra Costa County today with any question you might have.