Foster care is defined as a system wherein a certified person cares for minor children or young people who have been separated from their birth parents or other custodial adults by the state authorities. The responsibility of the child is assumed by a governmental authority, and they help them find placement with another family. These placements are monitored until the birth family can prove that it can provide adequate care for the child, or the rights of the birth parents are terminated and the child is adopted.
A foster parent receives financial reimbursement from the placement agency for each child until such time as the child is residing at their house, to meet the costs of his/her needs. The amount of the financial assistance provided usually varies from state to state, and in some cases, even from city to city.
The earliest documentation of children being placed in foster homes is found in the Old Testament. There are references that established caring for young, dependent children as a duty under law, and records show that children were boarded with 'worthy widows' who were paid from the collections obtained from the congregation.
The English Poor Law led to the development and regulation of family foster care in the United States in 1562. The law allowed placing poor children into foster care till they came of age into indentured service. Charles Loring Brace began the free foster home movement in 1853. He was a minister and director of the New York Children's Aid Society, and was concerned about the large number of immigrant children who slept on the streets of New York. He advertised a plan in the South and West for families that were willing to provide free homes to the children for charitable reasons. This daring and creative action of Brace became the foundation for the foster care movement as it exists today.
During the early 1900s, social agencies began to supervise foster parents. Records were maintained, and the child's needs were considered when placements were made. The federal government began supporting state inspections of family foster homes. Further, help and services were provided to the natural families to enable the child to return home. Foster parents were considered to be a part of a professional team that worked with the state to find a permanent house for the dependent children.
If you are interested in foster parenting, then given below are some basic requirements that you will have to meet.
- Completion of an application form for a family home license.
- A complete background check including criminal history and finger printing of each adult member of the family.
- You should have a stable family environment in your home.
- You will have to provide character references.
- You will have to clear a personal interview and a home inspection.
- You should be of a minimum age of 21 years.
- Depending on the state that you live in, you will have to complete a few pre-service training certifications.
Foster care is a huge responsibility. It means taking somebody else's child into your home with the promise to provide better for him/her than the birth parents. If you are considering becoming a foster parent for the first time, then you must think it through completely before going for it. There may be a possibility that the children will resent you, and hold you responsible for taking them away from their birth parents. There may be a possibility that the child is re-united with the birth parents after staying with you for a few years, and this can cause you heartache if you have developed a deep bond with the child. Every possibility must be considered before you embark on this journey.
You could request the placement agency to help you connect with some foster parents who can share their experiences with you. You will get first-hand information about the various possibilities and scenarios that you should be ready to face. Also, the decision to become a foster parent has to be a combined one, wherein everyone in the family must agree to it.