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Foster Care Mythbusting: Who can be a foster parent?

The need for foster families is huge. In central Ohio alone, there are more than 2,500 children in foster care. 

As a foster parent recruiter, I talk every day to people from all walks of life about the process for becoming a foster parent. And I’ve realized there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about being a foster parent. I’m here today to clear up some of the most common questions I get about who can be a foster parent. The reality is – it’s easier than you think!

Myth: You have to have parenting experience to be a foster parent. 

Truth: Being a parent or having parenting experience is not mandatory. Prior parenting experience is helpful; however, not having parenting experience doesn’t prohibit an individual from becoming a licensed foster parent. You really just need love and a heart for children, and SAFY will provide comprehensive training specific to caring for foster children in the home.

Myth: You must be a homeowner to be a foster parent. 

Truth: Homeownership is not a requirement. A foster home may be a single family home, condominium, apartment, or mobile home. Families who own or rent can also foster a child. 

Myth: Only younger adults can be foster parents. 

Truth: The only minimum age requirement is you have to be at least 21 years of age to be a foster parent. Otherwise, people of any age who have a heart for children can be foster parents. 

Myth: You have to be married to be foster parents.

Truth: There is no marriage requirement. You can be single, married or divorced and be a foster parent.

Myth: You meet stringent income guidelines to be a foster parent. 

Truth: While applicants are required to have income from a stable source to support household expenses independent of the foster care reimbursement, there are not stringent income requirements. In other words, foster parents just need to be financially independent on their own, outside of any foster care reimbursement. The foster care reimbursement is paid to foster caregivers exclusively to support the cost of caring for the foster child. 

Myth: There is a long and complicated licensure process to become a foster parent.

Truth: SAFY is in need of quality foster caregivers, so we want to make it as easy and seamless as possible for those wanting to be a foster parent to become licensed. Applicants who meet state and agency certification guidelines will be approved. The most important quality beyond meeting state and agency guidelines is “being dedicated to the health and well-being of children.” From there, the licensure process typically involves attending training sessions, completing a background check and having a home study – which are usually done in 90 days.

Myth: It is challenging for foster families to receive support to help them care for the children placed in their home. 

Truth: SAFY is proud of the support we provide our foster families. When foster parents are licensed with SAFY, they become part of the SAFY Family Network. SAFY provides unlimited support and guidance to foster families and offers wrap-around services for foster children. Foster parents also receive 24 hour on-call support and guidance by qualified professional staff.

If you feel led to learn more about the foster parent application and approval process, visit www.SAFY.org or call us at 614-729-2024.

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures services that help families and children heal, have hope, and thrive: therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, behavioral health and supports for older youth. Learn more at www.SAFY.org

 

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