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How can I foster a child?

How can I foster a child? After you have taken the classes, had the home inspection, and gotten the approval notice, you realize, I'm not ready for this...


Perhaps you have no support system in your area. Your own parents are older and your siblings live far away, yet you need people to help you take care of the child or children you will potentially foster. Are you even able to foster - practically? Logistically?


Are you able to take an infant? Who will do daycare? Can I take my child to work in the summer? How will I get the child after school? Where will I get a car seat if I need one? Can any teenager babysit when I need a date night?


I recently found a friend in this situation. She was deemed ready, yet she was struggling to put it all together. She and her husband both work full-time, the bedrooms were not ready in her opinion, and she had no childcare resources. The parents were older or not an option to become sitters for the potential child that would come.


How can I foster a child when I am not ready logistically?


How can I foster a child?


It may be easy to say "Yes" because you care about the kids so much and are willing to provide a home. However, is that the best thing to do? Are you equipped for three? Mentally, emotionally, physically? I know that as I age, I am capable of less and less in the area of childcare.


Here are some steps to take to prepare logistically for the arrival.


Get a support system.

Choose a friend who is available in the daytime to watch the child when you have appointments. Choose another friend who is available in the evening for nights out with your spouse, meetings, events, etc. which you have committed to. Perhaps a responsible college student lives in your neighborhood who can pick up your groceries or run other mundane errands? Who are the members of your church who could pray for you? Are there members of your inner circle who could watch the child at your house while you take care of the bills or do a ZOOM call? Find these people.


Talk to your boss.

You will need extra time off. Careers are important and you may not want to change to being a stay-at-home parent just because you have chosen to foster. You will need to discuss the possibility of needing off for doctor appointments, therapy, child emergencies at daycare. (These will happen!) An open and honest relationship with your supervisor beforehand will smooth the way for these times when you will need to leave the actual office.


It is much better to be proactive and have conversations before getting your placement. If your boss is not excited about your placement you should consider alternatives, like reading the policy manual to see what the procedure is for getting off, FEMLA policies, and labor laws that may make the case for you. Then respectfully re-engage with the supervisor with the knowledge of the official policy and procedures for asking off.


Get your supplies ready.

Do not overdo this. Plan on generic beds, bedding, towels, toys, snacks, etc. for a wide range of children that could come to your home. Do not plan on painting a room pink because you said on the form you would only take girls. Generic is better and prepares you for the unexpected. Have some extra of everything on hand - shampoo, soap, washcloths, etc.


Look for resources.

Look at daycares that are in your area (on your way to work if possible) that are accepting children. Do they have an application process? Go ahead and get an application, fill it out as much as possible, and file it away for "THE DAY" when you need to finish it. In my state, they pay for daycare. I took advantage of this and found a great, Christian lady to watch my boy till he was able to go to Kindergarten. This lady is my friend to this day. It was a private home with a room dedicated to her daycare. My agency provided me a list of the approved daycare providers in my county. Other resources were WIC (Women Infants and Children) programs that paid for baby formula, healthy foods, and education in my county.


Churches often have 'foster closets' to offset the cost of a placement. Search your own church for resources that are available in your neighborhood. You won't know until you ask (or google).


How can I foster a child?

Getting a support person can help too; I call it a "foster BFF". You will need a person who is ahead of the journey and can help you talk through issues or concerns you have. Someone who can give advice and wisdom in situations is crucial. How do I get a foster BFF? Read this to make it more clear: https://impressingminds.com/foster-parent-support/


Be ready for the call. Get a list ready. I created a free, printable list and share it in this post: (I've been told it is gold.) https://impressingminds.com/accepting-a-foster-care-placement/


Be ready to say "No." It is better to say "no" to a placement than to say yes and then not be prepared for the children you are about to get. For example, if you get a call that a sibling group of three is available and they are all under six years old. You still have to work full-time. Can you really foster a child?

Eventually, the timing and placement will work out. The right call will come. The fewer transitions for the child, the better. Always remember that. To get insight into multiple transitions, check out this eye-opening article with video from a Kansas City news publication: https://www.kansascity.com/news/special-reports/article238204784.html


How can I foster a child?

ASK:

What are you reasonably prepared for? Stick to that. (EVEN IF IT IS DIFFERENT THAN YOUR INITIAL LIST...keep reading!) Two children under 10 years old and over five would be best for our family for our very first placement. The child's first placement would also be best. IF the children have had four moves, it may be a pattern that brings with it additional trauma that, as a new foster parent, you may not be ready for. This is exactly what my first placement looked like - two kids who were younger than my youngest, but not in diapers. You want to help, but saying, "No." could be best for you and the foster children.

Are you able to take an infant?

"It's on my application list what I will accept."

Realize, when a caseworker or Child Protective Service agent calls for a placement, you are not their priority. Your list is not there in front of them, most likely. Getting the children placed with a family is the case worker's main priority. If they are short with you or even rude, they have a very important job to do and a limited amount of time to accomplish it. Give grace.


With that being said, answering your questions about placement is not their prime concern, but you need to make it yours. Stick to asking the questions on the list. If they don't know, ask them if they could find out before you give your "Yes." Therefore, have a good conversation and always be professional. [Find out more about becoming professional in this post: https://impressingminds.com/professional-foster-parenting/]


You can do this! I'm proud of you for wanting to foster, preparing to foster adequately and professionally. I'm happy that you are willing to take a child into your home. You've got this. I'm here to help. Give a question that you have about the process in the comments.

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Impressing Minds is about creating value in the mind of a child through the foster parents. Imagine the mind of a child being made of play-doh, and you are about to make a permanent impression. What type of impression will you make? I will encourage you to make a soft, lasting, affirmative impression in their mind by giving tools to get started fostering, accomplishing a great foster care home, and serving the children in your care. I offer support to you and others fostering. An important element of Impressing Minds is the support that others have given to those in need.

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