Mention foster care to someone and you just may get an earful, good and bad. We all have strong opinions of foster care, some of which comes from actual experience in the system. One thing you have to remember is that there are wonderful experiences concerning foster care, and there are bad experiences concerning foster care. Let’s look at five common misconceptions surrounding the foster care system.
1. All foster children have serious problems and concerns
One of the worst myths is that foster children are mean, aggressive, and violent. Some people think that children are in the system because of something they did to get them kicked out of their homes. While many kids in foster care have come from neglectful or abusive homes, that isn’t always the case. Additionally, kids react to trauma in different ways. Some withdraw, some act out, and some are able to put it aside. Not every foster child comes with serious problems. However, it is necessary to understand the possible mental health problems that could occur.
2. Foster parents cannot be gay or living an alternative lifestyle
Years ago, it was easier to take in a foster child as a heterosexual married couple. However, times are changing. There will be background checks, age requirements, and other tests given to make sure you can take care of a foster child, but you no longer have to be in a “traditional” relationship. Same-sex couples, single parents, and even older couples are now able to foster.
3. You won’t choose the child who comes to your home
No foster agency wants to place a child into a home that isn’t right for them. The main goal of foster care is to find the right placement for the child and the family taking that child in. You will have a voice and the final decision when it comes to who you foster if you decide to become a foster parent.
4. You have to be a stay-at-home parent to foster
The average age of a foster child is eight, meaning they will spend most of the day in school. Working families can still foster a child even if both parents work during the day or night. As long as arrangements can be made for kids who are not old enough to come home alone, such as after-school care, working parents will have no trouble fostering. Many states will also reimburse parents who need to put foster children in licensed daycares or preschools.
5. You have to own your own home
Owning a home is not the only way to prove that you will be a responsible foster parent. As long as you can offer the child love, stability, and space, owning your own home will not matter.
Foster care is an amazing gesture. While it is difficult and challenging at times, the rewards outweigh the hard times. With thousands of kids in the foster care system, the many misconceptions need to be debunked.