Why should I be a Foster Parent for Children in Virginia?
Why should I be a foster parent in VA
If you are reading this post, I can only assume that on some level you are curious about being a Foster Parent. While I cannot say where you are in your journey, I can hope to help you consider some of the reasons why you may become a Foster Parent to children in need. This isn't a decision you should take lightly. Like all parenting, there will be challenges but hopefully, I can help give you some insight into the positives that may help to make the right decision for you and your family.
The most obvious reason is that you could be making a difference in children’s lives who are placed in foster care. Most children are placed into foster care due to no fault of their own. Some children who are in foster care have had very little stability in their lives. Some children have had multiple caregivers and in some instances may have been abused or neglected by more than one person. When children move between several homes, not only do they lack security and safety they can fall behind educationally. By becoming a Foster Parent, you could become that stable and safe respite in their life as well as an advocate for children and their educational needs. By welcoming them into your home and providing guidance, support and caring, you could be helping to change their lives and give them the reassurance and trust to build a connection with someone. Connections are key to children building resilience to overcome the trauma that they have faced.
Children of all ages enter into foster care see diagram below. This is not just something that is implemented for younger children. There are many teens and older children who do not have a home to belong to or have been so busy looking after younger siblings that they have not had anyone to attend to their needs. Teenagers may have potentially experienced more years of instability in their lives and may have never had a chance to be a child at home. The teenage years are critical in the development of prosocial skills, understanding their own needs and receiving guidance from a trusting adult.
Children in foster care also can be forced to be separated from their siblings since sometimes finding foster families that have room for multiple children can be challenging. Children do not only experience the loss of parents, being separated from siblings can be quite traumatic as well. When possible, efforts may be made to visit siblings if they are not placed together but at times this is not a priority for the social workers. Children also lose their school, if they are placed outside of their school district. A “best interest determination” meeting occurs but sometimes due to distances a child may have to transfer schools. Those transfers also signify another loss in the life of a foster child.
I’ve heard the argument before that with Fostering, it’s only a temporary home. How much of a difference can you actually make? They will eventually leave so what is the point? To this, I would say that while there is a possibility they may leave, you can still show them that someone cares while they are going through such a stressful time. Also, many children stay in Foster Care for years, some until they age out 18 or 21. Even though the courts may not have always terminated their parents’ rights, children may be unable to return to them. Children do not always understand why parents don’t take action for their children to be returned to their custody. As long as you have them, you could provide them with the loving care of a family and the understanding of a healthy relationship for them to take with them into their adult lives. For others, the termination rights of the guardian may occur. The option to Foster to Adopt may become available. The child must live with the Foster Family at least 6 months before they can be adopted. This helps provide time to start building trust and dependability, although some children take longer for this to develop. Circumstances and outcomes differ depending on the situation. You should consider what level of care you are willing to offer. There are several alternatives to choose from; short term foster care, long term foster care, respite care, and adoption. You are welcome to explore different options if you change your mind along the way.
No one knows exactly what influence foster families may have on children who reside with them. In any of these situations with care, love, support and a guiding hand, you could have a life-changing effect on the child. You may teach them the necessary life skills to assist them in adulthood. You have the opportunity to make them feel important, worthwhile, wanted again. If you are wondering, you are not in this alone. Foster Agencies usually provide you with a case manager for support and guidance to promote a successful placement and connection. You do not have to be anxious or uncertain; you have people to help and reassure you along the way. But you may ask how will having a foster child affect you? Foster parents report “that all though it can be challenging at times, it is the most rewarding job that they have ever had!” Children impact foster parents just as much as you could impact the child. Do you remember doing something nice for someone and how it made you feel? Imagine experiencing that on a grander scale.
So what questions do you have about becoming a foster parent? Do you have room in your heart (and your house), patience, understanding, and a burning desire to help, explore being a Foster parent for a child in need? Contact a Licensed Child Placing agency for more information. What you can provide for these children is a gift and much needed. Who knows, you and your family may be forever in your foster child’s heart.
Ages of children in Foster Care in Virginia in 2020