Before you become a foster parent …
The decision to become a foster parent will change your life and the lives of your family and friends. Keep these five things in mind as you begin your journey.
- Talk with your children. Foster care impacts the entire family, not just parents. Make sure you’ve talked about the choice with all of your children, because having other kids in your home means more demands on a parent’s time and a new family routine. Some changes will be positive, and some changes will be more difficult to adjust to.
- Be patient. It takes time to get certified for foster care. Each county and child placement agency has a different training process and timeline.
- Know your limits. Current foster parents often encourage others to think about what they can handle. Would you be a good parent for certain age groups, genders or other qualities in children? What parenting skills do you have and what skills are you willing to learn?
- Understand the goal of foster care. Children enter foster care because their parents need time to learn new skills to become the parents their children need them to be. Foster care is temporary, and family reunification is the primary goal. It is normal to become attached to the children who you will care for, so have a plan to allow yourself to deal with those feelings of loss and grief.
- Learn about trauma. In addition to the trauma of experiencing abuse and neglect, entering foster care is also a traumatic experience for kids. You will see the impact of trauma reflected in a child’s behavior. Ask the child welfare professionals who you work with to connect you with trauma-informed parent trainings.
When you're ready to begin, contact county departments of human services and child placement agencies to learn about their foster care programs. Find contact information on our website.