One of the first blogs we ever wrote was about common myths regarding the foster care system. We thought it important to deal with those myths right away, because we certainly don’t want someone not pursuing the joy of becoming a foster parent due to an untrue fact they hear from someone who’s misinformed.
Today we thought we’d tackle a few more myths that surround the foster care system and let you know know what’s really going on.
Myth: You Have To Be A Heterosexual Married Couple To Be A Foster Parent
The rudimentary foster care system of centuries past often paired children with widows who needed help around the house. As the system changed, it was indeed heterosexual couple who were allowed to become foster parents.
Times have changed once again. As we detailed in this article, foster families look much different than they once did. Older couples, same-sex couples, singles, and empty nesters have all joined the nuclear family as caretakers of foster kids. There will always be age requirements and the necessity that you have the space and the means to take care of a child (beyond what you’ll get from the foster care system), but nearly anyone who passes the required background checks and other tests will be considered.
Myth: You Have To Have Previous Parenting Experience
Some people think that you have to be parent to be a foster parent, and that’s simply not the case. While many foster carers do have children in the home or are empty nesters, that’s not a prerequisite. Parenting classes are available, and more than anything we’re looking for kind people with big hearts to help these kids during difficult times.
Myth: Dealing With “The System” Is Just Too Much Work
Because you are the one who is opening your home and heart to a child, we will always do everything we can to make the entire process as easy on you as possible. Once the initial background checks and paperwork are out of the way, it will be that much easier if you decide to foster another child after the first. But we’ll admit, it can be a bit trying at first.
At the same time, you’ll understand if we’re rigorous in our training and background checks. After all, we’re dealing with the life of a child, so we have to do everything we can to ensure they’re going to end up in a safe, loving home.
Is dealing with the paperwork fun? No, we can’t say it is. (If you think you’re doing a lot of it, imagine how much we have to deal with!) But is it worth it to help a child in need? You’ll find out that it most certainly is.
Myth: I Have To Own My Own Home To Offer Foster Care
The fact is, not everyone who has the heart to be a foster parent also owns their own home. Some people live their entire lives in apartments, and to say no to them when they’re interested in helping just wouldn’t make sense.
Stability means so much more than homeownership when it comes to being a foster parent or a foster family. As long as you’re not moving every month (school stability is also important to a foster child) and have a space in which a foster child can live, you don’t have to own your home.
Myth: I Have To Be A Stay-At-Home Parent When I Have A Foster Child
We’re more than happy to debunk this myth. Excluding working parents would mean many, many fewer people being allowed to help. We understand that there are many who work to support their own family and are also interested in taking in a foster kid.
A good deal of foster kids are of school age, which means that they’ll be at school for most of the time. Even if you’re working until 5:30 or later, we’ll work with you to find after-school care options that you might not be aware of.
But what about children who are too young to go to school? Well, much as a person might take their biological child to daycare, that’s also an option for foster kids. Again, there might be reimbursement available to pay for services such as licensed preschools or daycares; please talk to a foster care agent to see what might be available to you.
Myth: I’ll Have To Take the Child Onto My Insurance
Well that just wouldn’t be fair, would it? To set the record straight, you certainly won’t have to take the foster child onto your insurance. Insurance is provided chiefly by Medi-Cal.
Myth: I’ll Have To Take Any Child The Program Chooses
It is always our goal to make a good match between the needy child and the foster family. You will have some say regarding which child you can take care of. If you have no experience working with special-needs children, we’re not going to force you to care for one. That wouldn’t work for you or the child, and our task is to find a parent who is able to properly care for the child.
As we discussed before, the entire process of becoming a foster parent can seem complex, but during that time we’re going to find out a lot about you and what kind of child would be right. Chances are really good that we’re going to start you off pretty easy…we certainly don’t want to scare you away from the entire process with your first foster child!
Myth: I’ll Probably Get A Teenager
When many people think of the foster system, they have the assumption that kids are in foster care because they’re juvenile delinquents. As we detailed here, that’s just not the case. While the teen’s parents might be in trouble, the teen is often the victim and not the perpetrator. If you have a preference to foster a teenager, that may well be who you get to help.
But it’s certainly not all teenagers. About half of foster children are under the age of 10, and they all need a loving home.
Myth: I’ll Be Pressured To Take Home More
Let’s say you’ve passed the hurdles to become a foster parent, and you’re all ready to accept your first charge. When you’re expecting one, will there suddenly be another waiting beside them and we’ll guilt you into taking both? Certainly not! While many foster children might have siblings in the system, we’re not going to suddenly spring a second child on you.
But what if you find out that being a foster parent just isn’t for you? We’re not going to pressure you into taking another if you don’t want to. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never ask again if we find just the right kid, but there’s not going to be pressure.
As you can tell from this article and the one in the links above, there are a lot of myths about foster care. But what you’ll find out is that these myths come from outside the foster care system, from those who have never had any interaction with it. Once you get involved, you’ll discover that, while it’s not an ideal and perfect way to care for kids, it’s the best chance they have for becoming healthy members of society. We’d love for you to learn more, so be sure to contact us if you’re interested.