If you are considering becoming a foster parent, chances are that you have a lot of questions. We have prepared this list of common questions about foster parenting and foster kids to help. If you have additional questions, please call ChildNet's Foster Care Recruitment Hotlines in Broward County at 954.414.6001 and in Palm Beach County at 561.352.2501.
About Foster Parents
There is no greater reward than helping a child thrive and grow into a well-adjusted socially responsible, self-sufficient, stable adult. By doing so, you will have the joy of knowing that you changed that child's life forever.
Foster parents are amazing, hard working, caring individuals from all socioeconomic, religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
The number-one requirement to be a foster parent is love. But the State of Florida has established some additional requirements to help keep foster children safe. Foster parent candidates must:
- Be a Florida resident age 21 and older;
- Be financially stable;
- Be physically and emotionally able to care for children;
- Pass a background check; and
- Have adequate room and beds in your home for children.
Please note the many things that aren’t required: You don’t have to be rich or married, have a certain faith or sexual orientation, or own your own home to be a foster parent. And great foster parents come in many ages and backgrounds.
A home study is a collaborative effort with the family and the foster care management agency to determine if foster care will fit their family lifestyle. In the home study, the foster care licensing specialist will assess the potential foster home/family and complete a written summary on their strengths, skills, behaviors, attitudes, stamina and any other qualifications that will help the family deal with the challenges of foster parenting. The foster parents select the level of need and age group of the children they would like to foster.
It's important for the child to feel that they have a space to call their own. Each child must have their own bed and must be in a separate room from the foster parent. Foster children may share a bedroom with another child of the same gender, but no child may share a bedroom with anyone over the age of 18.
You do not have to be wealthy or own your own home to foster. Foster parents simply need to be financially stable, meaning that you have enough income to meet your family’s needs.
Foster parents receive a monthly “board rate” payment based on the age of the foster child and the type of foster care provided, but this is not meant to be a source of income for the foster parent. You will incur some expenses on your own as you care for your foster child.
Absolutely. In fact, most foster parents work outside the home. To help working parents, daycare or aftercare is provided for all foster children up to age 9 at a subsidized rate. This means that the cost is nothing or is minimal and covered by the monthly board rate that the foster parent receives.
However, foster children under the age of six weeks require a stay-at-home foster parent, as they are not yet old enough for daycare.
A foster parent will never be asked to accept a foster child that he/she is not prepared to help. The best outcomes for foster children and parents alike come from making a good placement match. Children are placed in foster homes by matching their needs with the foster parent(s)' or family's situation and strengths. The foster parent selects the level of need (traditional, enhanced, or therapeutic) and age group of the children that he or she would like to foster.
Foster children need nurturing and loving guidance, and this should be reflected in discipline as well. Positive discipline will be covered extensively in the pre-service calls.
Foster parents are prohibited by law from administering corporal punishment (such as spanking).
There are many different types of support available for foster parents:
- Foster parents receive a monthly board payment to help cover of the cost of caring for their foster children;
- Foster parents work with a Child Advocate (caseworker) who visits the child at least once a month, helps obtain services for the child, and ensures that the child’s needs are being met;
- Foster parents have a Home Support Specialist through their licensing agency to assist with any issues that arise;
- Foster parents receive 12 days of paid respite care, when a foster child stays with another foster family;
- Foster parents receive childcare for their foster children at little or no cost;
- Foster children receive Medicaid to cover healthcare costs, as well counseling and additional therapies as necessary; and
- Many foster children are also assigned a Guardian Ad Litem or Attorney Ad litem to advocate for their best interest in court.
The Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (FAPA) also provides support to fellow foster and adoptive parents. In Broward County, FAPA meets at 7 pm on the fourth Tuesday of each month at Plantation Community Church, 6501.
In some cases, foster parents can adopt their foster children. If the biological parents do not complete their Case Plans, the court may terminate their parental rights, freeing the children for adoption. The foster parents are usually the first choice for adoption of a child who has been in their care.
About Foster Kids
Most children in foster care visit their biological regularly, usually once a week, as part of the court-ordered plan to reunite the family.
Children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect have been traumatized. You will learn how to work with the behaviors they exhibit due to this trauma in your pre-service class. Foster parenting can be a challenge, but for those with the love and strength to foster, the rewards are enormous.
Children of all ages, origins, ethnicity, and backgrounds are in foster care. Foster children are diverse, yet they share a common thread: They have all experienced abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and they all need a loving family and a nurturing place to call home. These children have entered foster care through no fault of their own, and they wish for a brighter future. We are especially in need of foster parents who can:
- Stay at home to care newborns under 6 weeks old;
- Take sibling groups, especially of mixed gender;
- Care for children with behavioral or mental health issues;
- Care for children with medical needs; and
- Care for teenagers and guide them toward independent living.
Yes, and vacations can be an excellent bonding experience for foster parents and their foster children. However, you must have prior arrangements approved
Yes, and you will learn more about the requirements for babysitters in your pre-service training class.
Everyone in the community can make a positive difference in the lives of local foster children – even if being a full-time foster parent isn’t right for you. Some of the many ways you can help include:
- Volunteering at organizations that help local foster children;
- Donating funds to help ChildNet’s mission of caring in our community;
- Donating goods or services to help foster children and families; and
- Mentoring or tutoring foster children.
A good way to learn about fostering, gauge your readiness to become a full-time foster parent, and still help a foster child is to become a respite foster parent. Respite care occurs when a foster child stays with another family for one or more nights, usually when foster parents must go out of town and cannot bring the child with them. Respite foster parents receive the same training and license as full-time foster parents.