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A foster parent is an adult who cares for children that the state has removed from the biological parents' home. These children are removed from the birth parents' custody because the state has determined that it is not safe for the children to remain there. The goal of foster care is to work toward family reunification.
The state hopes to return the foster child to the biological parents when parents are equipped to care for their children in a safe, loving environment. Despite this fact, foster children are eligible for adoption if the state feels that parental rights should be terminated. A foster parent takes care of foster children on a temporary basis until the children are reunited with parents or a permanent home is found.
Basic requirements to become a foster parent include a training class, a background check, a stable family life with regular income, an interview and home inspection, personal references, and application for a family home license. Foster parents must be at least 21 years of age, but both single and married people can become foster parents. All foster parents must agree to cooperate with the agency that places a child into their care.
Caring for a child can be expensive, so a foster parent receives financial assistance from the state in order to properly care for the child placed in the home. Foster parents receive funds to help purchase food, clothing, and other necessities for the child. To offset medical costs, foster children are eligible for Medicaid, which pays for their health and dental insurance needs.
A person who is interested in becoming a foster parent should first obtain information about it. Speak with other foster parents about the pros and cons of caring for foster children in the home. The next step is to attend an orientation to learn more about the foster care process. Interested individuals should contact their local department of children and family services or their state's foster parent association.
During orientation, adults learn about what it's like to take care of foster kids. They have the opportunity to ask questions and determine whether foster parenting is right for them and their families. Such meetings are relaxed, low-pressure environments where agencies explain how foster care works. No one has to make a decision to care for a foster child at that time; it's merely an informative meeting.
Once a family decides to pursue foster care, each adult in the household must attend classes. Classes last from several weeks to several months. This training teaches potential foster parents about how to become successful at raising foster children. Two common training courses are Model Approaches to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) and Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE). CPR and first aid training are also required courses.
After the training program, families must submit to a home study. This is to ensure that each household is safe to raise a child. Every foster home must pass fire and health inspections. Potential foster parents learn the requirements during training so they can conform to these stipulations before the home study is conducted.
Once the home study is successfully completed, applicants receive official certification as an approved foster home. This is the point when adults decide which types of foster children they wish to accept into their family. Foster parents can review a child's particular history before allowing him into the home. If foster parents do not believe the child would be a good fit for their household, they have a right to reject the placement.