America's foster care system is home to about 500,000 children, and over 10 percent have to be placed in an institution due to lack of fit foster homes. If more people knew how easy it was to become foster parents, I know that outrageous number would drop significantly, and more children would be placed in loving homes where they could have happy childhoods and build bright futures. There are many reasons why people think that they would not be fit foster parents, and I'm ready to debunk all of them!
1. I don't have the extra money to care for another child.
Kids are expensive! Not many people have the extra money laying around to take on another child out of the blue. Luckily, as a foster parent, you receive $500–$800 (depending on your state) a month to care for your foster child. This money is given to you for your foster child's wants and needs like clothing and toys. Sometimes, receipts are requested by a foster child's case worker to ensure that the money is going to the right place.
2. I don't have good health insurance.
Good healthcare is hard to come across. But for foster children, everything regarding their health is completely free! All emergency room visits, hospital stays, doctor's visits, prescriptions, etc. If a foster child is sick and in need of medical attention, the foster parent won't pay a penny, unless you're buying over-the-counters like cough drops or allergy medicine.
3. My grocery bill would double.
All children in foster care under the age of five (and in some states at any age) are eligible for WIC! All you have to do is get them registered. With WIC, each child in your home gets free milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, juice, FORMULA (10 whole cans of it a month!) and more! If anything, being a foster parent will slice your grocery bill in half!
4. I'll be sad if/when the children leave.
If you're doing your job right, this is true. You'll be sad when they leave because of the bond and attachment you've built over the time they've lived in your home and been part of your family. But in the end, these children need love and safety more than you need to protect your heart. If you grieving a loss in the end means that they can be kept warm and fed and told "I love you" for however long they're with you, then it's really all worth it.
5. My house isn't big enough/I only have one bedroom in my home.
A lot of people think small homes can't hold foster children. Actually, if you have a foster child under 12 months of age, they HAVE to sleep in the same room as the foster parent in a crib. So, if you only have one bedroom, your options are still there, they may just be limited to infants. Rules vary from state to state, so call your state's foster agencies to see if your options are less limited.
6. I have a full-time job; I can't watch a foster child.
We are all so busy nowadays, especially in our careers. Thankfully, foster children get free full-time childcare! While you are working, your foster child would stay at daycare or preschool for as long as you needed them to, and you wouldn't pay a penny!
7. I travel too much to be a foster parent.
Luckily for all the traveling foster parents out there, there is this awesome little thing called respite care! Respite care is a very short term foster care placement where another foster family will care for children whose foster parents are traveling. The respite family will receive the money that would have gone to the foster family that week from the government, so you don't have to pay anything out of pocket for this.
8. I don't think long-term placements would be best for my family.
If you already have other children, or you would rather only have short-term placements for whatever reason, that's no problem! Like we previously discussed, we need more respite families, as well! You can go through the training to be a foster family, and make yourself only available for respite care. Your placements would be no longer than two weeks!
9. I don't want younger/older children.
As a foster parent, you have the right to refuse any case you are offered. A caseworker will call you and tell you everything they know about the child/children. On your profile, you can get specific about the placements you want calls about. It can be by age, sex, race (this doesn't look good at all on your part!) etc. Kiddos of all ages need homes!
10. I'm in a same-sex relationship.
If you are gay, you can still be a foster parent. Gay foster parents are six times more likely to adopt children from foster care! There are currently laws banning discrimination in foster care licensing, so call your state for more info, and reach out to the LGBT Foster Parent Resources!