As a foster parent, you are entrusted with helping an abused or neglected child heal from both physical and emotional wounds. The process may be challenging at times, but it is also a very rewarding experience. Specific policy requirements and guidelines vary from state to state, often depending on the entity that manages the public child welfare system in your area, but there are general rules that apply to all regions.
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While the overall process varies from region to region, to become a licensed foster parent you need to provide documentation that you meet the minimum age requirement, make enough money to support yourself, pass a state/federal criminal and child abuse background check, and provide a number of references from doctors, employers, colleagues, family and friends. You must also attend a period of training sessions to help prepare you to care for a child in foster care. This process determines what kind of children you can take in, and how many children you can care for at one time.
Provide Basic Needs for the Child
Once a child has been placed into your care, it is now your job to ensure that child is well taken care of. That means providing meals, education, a place to sleep and any necessary medical care. Many times children who are in foster care have special medical or mental health needs, so work with the caseworker to identify what the child needs and get him to the right doctor or specialist.
The majority of children in foster care are safely returned to their birth families after they rehabilitate and receive services through the government agency. It is a foster parent's job to respect and support that process, and provide support to the child so she is prepared to go home. This often means facilitating visits with parents, siblings or family members while the family rehabilitates.
When it is impossible or inappropriate for a child to be returned to his birth family, many foster parents chose to adopt the children in their care. Tell your caseworker if you are ever interested in adopting an available child in your care --- this helps to move the process along in the event adoption becomes the child's goal.
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