There is a lot of misinformation circulating about foster care that keeps interested prospective parents from taking that first step towards caring for a child that needs their help. As a foster care agency, we work diligently to dispel the many myths of foster care and portray to the public the real and rewarding efforts of being in the arena with a child battling his or her way through the traumatic events they may have experienced. We also bring honesty to the shared difficulty that comes with fostering a child with therapeutic needs.
We aren’t saying being a foster parent is always easy, but it will always be rewarding. Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths you may hear about foster care and more importantly the truth behind becoming a foster parent.
I am too old or too young to be a foster parent
The only age requirement for being a foster parent is that you must be at least 21 years old. From 21 years of age and older, you must be mentally and physically capable of caring for children.
I can’t foster if I am single
You do not have to be married to become a foster parent. We work with single foster parents to ensure they have enough job flexibility and support to care for foster children as a single adult.
I have to own a home to foster parent
You are not required to own a home as a foster parent. The home you provide for the foster child must be stable and must meet reasonable standards set by the state and agency.
I can’t foster if I work full or part-time
You may work part-time or full-time while being a foster parent. Some foster parents are retired and do not work at all. Whether you work or not, we require that you must be able to consistently maintain the finances of your home without the assistance of the reimbursements that would be paid to you to cover the expenses of caring for the foster child. Whatever your source of income, you will want to assess if you’ll have the flexibility and commitment required to care for a child with therapeutic needs.
I won’t have a say in the child who is placed with me
The foster care placement strategy is a matching process. This means our priority is ensuring we are placing children with the right family based on several factors that help determine a proper fit for all parties. Your preferences are not only requested but necessary in properly matching a child to your home.
All foster children are bad or difficult
One of the biggest misconceptions about foster care is that children are in foster care because of their behavior or choices, therefore all foster children are bad or difficult.
The majority of children in foster care are removed from their homes through no fault of their own. These children are often traumatized not only by being removed from their parent(s) or caregivers but by living in a home where their safety and needs may not have been met.
As a therapeutic foster parent you would be trained, trauma-informed and supported so that you can assist with the child’s adjustment to a consistent environment or expectations.
I have to be a parent to become a therapeutic foster parent
You do not have to be a parent to be a therapeutic foster parent. As a therapeutic foster parent, you would receive training before a child is placed in your home as well as ongoing training and support designed to continue developing effective parenting skills based on the foster child’s needs.
If I become a foster parent I will get too attached
Unfortunately, many people share that they don’t think they could handle the emotional separation if the child returned home or to their caregivers. Of course, there are always emotions involved when you share your home, support, and guidance with a child, helping them through life events while in your care. But for these same reasons reaching these milestones can be extremely gratifying knowing that you have been a part of their successes and helped them develop the ability to adapt to changes they will experience in their future.
I can’t afford to be a foster parent
Foster parents receive monthly reimbursements to cover the needs of the foster children in their care such as food and clothing. We require that you must be able to consistently maintain the finances of your home without the assistance of the reimbursements that would be paid to you to cover the expenses of caring for the foster child.
Teenagers are the most difficult to foster
As a therapeutic foster care agency, we work with a lot of teenagers and see this myth debunked every day.
Each teen brings their own strengths and challenges and demonstrates their capabilities of succeeding in school, having part-time jobs, acquiring independent living skills, and developing positive relationships with their foster families—relationships that sometimes last well into their adulthood.
Teens are at an age where they have the awareness and skills to practice good health and wellness, daily personal hygiene, effective communication, and other self-sufficiency tasks. As a foster parent to a teen, you can help them with their short-term goals of being resourceful by teaching them life skills, helping them locate long-term housing opportunities, and even assisting them with finding employment. You can also teach them additional skills to rely on to be successful and stay independent once they’ve left your home.
If you have any additional questions about foster parent qualifications in Indiana or Kentucky and the experience of therapeutic foster care, contact our team at Benchmark Family Services. With years of experience in training and supporting foster parents, we would appreciate the opportunity to assist you in better understanding the therapeutic foster care system.