Foster Child Meaning: What Is the Meaning of a Foster Child?

Foster family with a child on dads shoulders

National data from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) shows 407,000 children in foster care in 2020 alone. Youth in the foster care system need families willing to support and care for them. 

We've all heard of foster children before, but many people are unaware of what it means for a kid to be in foster care, how the system works, and how families can help. The first step is to learn more. 

If you're interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting, read this guide on the foster child meaning. 

Foster Child Meaning: What Is a Foster Child?

In simple terms, a foster child is a minor placed in state custody. Foster children are placed with state-licensed adults that care for the child rather than a guardian or parent. Youth may enter the foster system for many reasons, but the most common include abuse, neglect, or being in an unsafe home environment. 

The definition of foster is: 

  1. To promote the growth or development of
  2. To cherish
  3. To bring up a child

Fostering is the process of bringing up a child in place of their natural or adopted parents. Foster parents give parental care even though there are no blood ties or legal ties. 

Foster youth can grow up in a group home or with a family. Most foster kids end up reunited with their parents, relatives, or guardians.

However, the dictionary definition only explains so much. 

Beyond the Definition

Foster parents have many responsibilities, but their main goal is to provide a stable and loving environment for a foster child in their care. They may do so by: 

  • Working with the Department of Social Services 
  • Assisting the local Child Placing Agency
  • Completing training sessions
  • Undergoing a home study
  • Caring for the child financially and emotionally 
  • Undergoing interviews
  • Providing the time and energy to care for the child

You may not have experience parenting at first, and that's okay. Every foster parent starts somewhere! You can make an excellent foster parent if you meet all the requirements and genuinely desire to care for the child. 

For instance, this could mean taking time to help them with homework, plan family board game nights, ask about their day, take them trick-or-treating, and so on.

Spend quality time with them to create an environment where they feel safe and loved. Share new experiences with them and give them a childhood they'll treasure. 

Becoming a Foster Parent

If you're interested in fostering children, you must complete an application. You'll provide details about your family and home, reasons for wanting to foster, and so on. After the application phase, you'll need to attend orientation and training, which will teach you what to expect, provide the best care possible, and prepare your home and family for a foster child. 

The goal of all the preparation is to ensure that each foster child finds a home that's a good match. 

Taking the Next Step

Here in Virginia, we need more caring foster parents like you. Now that you know the foster child's meaning and what it means to be a foster parent, you can take the next step. 

To do so, reach out to us! You can learn more on our website, and when you're ready, submit our online form

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