Yes, I’m still alive. Man life has slapped me upside the head lately for taking too much on. I really think I could sleep for a week straight! This post has been a long time coming…
In two weeks we are hosting a Q&A Foster Care Luncheon at our church. We are trying to make it an annual tradition just to get conversations started and answer any myths or roadblocks people may have about ever considering fostering a child. So here are a few examples of the questions we, ourselves, had asked when we first started out, as well as some other questions I have been asked by others. Hope it helps! And hey, maybe at least you will learn something new! 🙂
HOW DO YOU BECOME A FOSTER PARENT?
We chose to go through Miracle Hill, as they act as a liason between you as a foster parent and DSS. They actually will supply you with the training you need, as well as resources (thrift store vouchers for needed items, etc), and most importantly, a listening ear when you need to vent about how ridiculous DSS is or how frustrated you are. They are WONDERFUL people, and I would never recommend the alternative…which is just being licensed through DSS.
To become licensed you attend two training classes (which means two saturdays), as well as a fire and health inspection, background checks, physicals, a home visit, and an interview. During this time they want to make sure everything is ready and help you find the best fit for your family. For instance, you may only want to foster infants or a 6 yr old girl, long term or short term, or whatever. You can specify and they help to find a fit that best suits your family. The entire licensing process takes about 3 months.
HELPFUL ASPECTS OF FOSTERING:
-If you are working, the state will provide daycare vouchers for the child in your care so that you can continue work.
-You receive a daily stipend from the state to help towards the cost of clothes, food, housing expenses, etc. A clothes check will also be issued each season to help with clothes and school expenses.
-All foster children’s medical expenses are covered on medicaid.
-Case workers can aid in transportation to and from family visits, doctors appointments, etc.
-You can leave the state if you have permission for the foster child to travel with you.
-Respite care is provided if needed so you can have a break or attend weddings/funerals/special occaisions.
-Our church was an awesome encouragement to us while we were fostering. They prayed for us, supported us, loved the kids with us, and were sad with us when they left.
-The process to become a foster family is the same process as becoming an adoptive parent. If a foster family ever wanted to adopt the foster child they would get first dibs as long as the child is free for adoption. Also, adoption through the state is FREE and costs nothing. Only private adoptions costs since they involve a private lawyer.
DIFFICULTIES OF FOSTERING:
-Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get. “Going with the flow” will become your new daily moto. Loving the child as much as you can from day to day. Court dates, family visits, medical conditions, bad case workers, are all factors that could possibly be frustrating. You sometimes don’t even know how long the child will be staying. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months…
Another pain child care workers experience comes from the difficulty of letting our children go. Some will return home to a family member, while others join their forever families through adoption. Some children will keep in touch through phone calls or on Facebook. Other children leave our home and we never see or hear from them again. They come into our lives for brief moments, and while they are with us, they become a part of our family. We laugh together. We cry together. We play together. In the brief moments we have, we want our children to not only know Jesus as their personal Savior, but also learn that they can trust Him. In this way, our Peace is turned to Joy and we can be at rest! (written in an article by Tonya Wilson at miraclehill.org)
-Spanking is not allowed. The suggested forms of discipline involve time-out or loss of priviledges. It was difficult for us to explain to our small kids that THEY got spankings but the foster child didn’t and WHY. Sometimes time-out didn’t work and we were frustrated as there didn’t seem to be any other options for curbing behavior. We just had to try to be as creative and consistent as possible.
I believe that God calls a family to foster. It’s not for everyone. Even if you can’t be a foster family, there are other ways you can encourage and help foster children. Here are a few ideas…
-notes of encouragement to foster families or even case workers (scripture is great!!)
-items like underwear, sippy cups, diapers, socks, toothbrushes, car seats, shoes, suitcases (used but nice). Most children come into care with the clothes on their back. Some have the luxury of grabbing a trash bag to transport items from foster family or group home. Any of these items would be a blessing to a foster family you know of or even to Miracle Hill Childrens Home (or Helping Hands).
-Help out with Christmas gifts or birthday gifts. I love the idea of donating GC for fun places like the movies or Children’s Museum…places that normally wouldn’t be an option to go to.
-gifts to DSS (snack foods, notes, bucket of goodies-lotion, office supplies, starbucks GC). Case workers are ALWAYS the bad guys. Parents don’t like them since they took their children away and foster parents get frustrated with them because they are the bearer of sad/bad news. Most case workers have 20-25 cases, so think of how much a word of encouragement would mean to them!
-Ask Miracle Hill to hold a Q&A session at your church. Even just getting information out there is helpful.
-take a meal to a foster parent or better yet pay for a babysitter for a night out!
I hope this helps some! Feel free to ask any questions YOU have if there’s anything you are curious about!