When children grow up without a safe, loving home there are dire long-term consequences:
- Children may not be able to learn at the same rate as their peers and they may struggle with emotional difficulties.
- Children can suffer from long-term health problems, and even death.
- Children who are shuffled between foster homes are more likely to fail classes and fall behind in their learning and socialization.
- Few foster children receive normal physical examinations and are the most vulnerable to experiencing poor health compared with any other group of children in the United States.
- For foster children who never find a permanent home and simply age out of the foster care system, the consequences are significant and long-term: only 50% will complete high school, 25% will be homeless, 40% will depend on some form of public assistance, and 27% of males and 10% of females will be incarcerated at least once.
Now let’s look at some of the common myths regarding foster care:
Myth: I could never be a foster parent because I’m not married and don’t make a lot of money. I don’t even own my own home.
Fact: There are no such requirements. You can be married or single, a homeowner or a renter. The only financial requirement is that you have enough of an income to support yourself and your family aside from the money you are reimbursed to care for a child living in foster care.
Myth: Foster parents have to stay at home with the children and I work full-time, I guess that excludes me.
Fact: No, it doesn’t. Many foster parents work outside of the home and you can discuss with a licensing agency what options may be available to assist with child care costs.
Myth: My children are grown and out of the house. I’m too old to be a foster parent.
Fact: There is no age requirement (other than you must be at least 21). Many “empty nesters” find foster parenting to be a rewarding experience.
Myth: I don’t have any children and to be a foster parent you need to have parenting experience.
Fact: Not true! Many foster parents are childless. They are, however, responsible people who have made a commitment to children and demonstrate an ability to parent or a desire to learn parenting skills.
Myth: Foster children have been abused so much that they’re beyond repair. I wouldn’t really be making a difference anyway.
Fact: Children are amazingly resilient. Foster parents can make the difference by providing a structured, nurturing environment. We need to remember that these children will grow up to be adults in our society. How we respond to their needs now will largely determine what kind of citizens they will be in the future.
Myth: Once I take in a foster child, I’m on my own without any help.
Fact: Children need stability and agency staff offer foster parents plenty of support to maintain an even keel. For starters, before you even take in your first child, the agency staff works with you to develop a profile of the type of child best suited to the experience and capabilities of your family. There is respite care for those times you need a break.
Myth: I would have to provide medical insurance for a foster child in my home.
Fact: Foster parents do not pay any of a child’s medical expenses, other than over-the-counter medicines and supplies. Each child in foster care is covered by the governing jurisdiction for their medical, dental, and mental health care needs.
Myth: All foster children are emotionally disturbed and damaged beyond repair. There’s nothing I can do to help them.
Fact: Miracles happen all the time with foster children and that’s because of the relationship they develop in the foster and adoptive homes they’re placed in.
Myth: You have to be wealthy to be a foster parent and you need to own a home.
Fact: Foster parents must be financially stable, but they do not have to be wealthy at all! Home ownership is not a requirement, although there are rules about how many children you can foster based on the number of bedrooms in your residence.
Myth: You have to be married to be a foster parent.
Fact: Single people can be foster parents too.
Myth: Someone has to be at home with the kids during the day so people with full-time jobs can’t foster.
Fact: People work full-time when they have biological children and it’s no different with foster children. Your licensing agency can advise you on childcare options.
Myth: You don’t have any choice of the types of children who get placed in your home, whether they are perfectly healthy or have a disability.
Fact: You do have control over which children are placed in your home. However, the broader your parameters are the more quickly you will receive a placement.
Myth: I can’t be a foster parent because I would get too attached. It would be too hard to see them leave.
Fact: It’s true — you will get attached, and it will be painful when children you love leave. But these children have suffered through things no child should ever face and they need the love and care foster parents provide when they open their hearts and homes. “When God calls you to do His work, He’s going to make sure you’re equipped to do it,”