Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the children in foster care?
Children who are temporarily separated from their families due to abuse or neglect and who enter a state's foster care system include:
- school-age children who need extra help in getting along with others, school work, and feeling good about themselves;
- infants who have special feeding and medical problems;
- brothers and sisters who should stay together;
- children with developmental or physical disabilities;
- children with emotional problems;
- children who need families that are sensitive to and respectful of their culture;
- teenagers who have not experienced positive family life and now need extra patience and commitment.
Who are foster families?
Foster families are people who enjoy parenting and who are willing to share their homes, time, energy, and love with children who have special problems because of abuse and neglect. In most states, you can become a foster parent if you:
- are at least 21 years old;
- are financially able to provide for your present needs;
- permit a fire and health inspection of your home;
- are single, married, divorced, or widowed;
- attend required training sessions;
- consent to criminal record and child abuse registry checks;
- are willing to meet with a social worker to determine if fostering is appropriate for you and your family;
- are willing to work with your local foster care agency to meet a child's needs and to ensure that the child has a permanent family by reunifying the child with his or her birth family or, possibly, through adoption.
Where do the children who need foster care come from?
Sometimes, as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or death in a family, courts decide that children must be temporarily separated from their families. These children come from all cultural and economic groups; but, in many communities, children of color are over-represented in the foster care system.
How long is "temporary"?
A child's stay in foster care may be as short as overnight or as long as it takes to achieve a permanent plan for the child. The first goal most often considered is to reunite the family if possible.
Can foster parents work outside the home?
Working people can be licensed or approved as foster parents. Each child's situation must be evaluated individually. Some children have needs that require a full-time at-home parent. Some foster care agencies have specific programs to serve these types of children.
Is financial assistance available?
In most cases, a foster family will receive a set reimbursement to help with the expenses while a child is in their home. Children usually have medical and dental coverage while in foster care.
What are the rewards of becoming a foster family?
Foster families can expect many rewards:
- a sense of accomplishment;
- the chance to help children feel good about themselves;
- pride in doing a meaningful and important job;
- challenging experiences;
- the opportunity to meet and work with new people;
- a chance to use special talents and knowledge;
- the opportunity to make a lifetime of difference in a short time.
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