Benefits of Being a Foster Parent

It’s true: fostering can provide a life-changing experience for the foster child. Welcomed into warm and loving homes, they are met with a safe and stable environment to grow and even thrive.

But what about the benefits for the foster parents themselves? Opening their hearts and homes means so much for the children involved, but it can also be a transformational time for the caregivers.

  1. Children in the foster care system have often experienced a trauma or hardship. Fostering gives parents the opportunity to provide a safe haven and support system for the children who need it most. You will be able to provide them with a consistent living environment that will give them the chance to work through difficulties and try to overcome obstacles. Helping during this trying and transitional period in their lives can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for the parents involved.
  2. As a foster parent, you are not just providing love and care, but you are meeting a need. You are making a positive contribution to your community, taking care of a child who has been displaced from their home and needs a supportive caregiver.
  3. If you are already married and with kids, fostering a child can create a strong bond through a shared goal and experience. Working together as a family to welcome in a new addition will be extremely rewarding, and gives you the chance for everyone to build new, important relationships. You will also have the chance to create a strong bond with the foster child themselves– a bond that will last long after the child leaves your home.
  4. And whether you have kids or don’t, adding a foster child to your family will enhance your life in new ways. Growing in your capacity to love and care for a child will bring new meaning to your life.
  5. When you foster, you’ll learn a lot. Foster parents are required to take free classes and trainings to ensure they are well-equipped and prepared. These trainings will not help you become a better parent and caregiver, but will also make you more aware of the foster system and its needs, locally and beyond. You’ll also surely learn new skills that are transferable to other areas of your life, including intangibles like patience, compassion, and empathy.
  6. Fostering a child can create a positive ripple effect. Those in your circle and community might be inspired but what you are doing and want to do the same. If they aren’t able to foster a child directly, it might entice them to help out the foster care system in another way.
  7. If you are interested in adopting, the US Department of Health and Human Services has reported that fostering can provide a quicker route to adoption than other means.
  8. Although financial gains or rewards should never be at the top of the list for any foster parent, fostering does offer monetary allowances for your service and to ensure the proper care of the child. Substantial tax credits are also provided for foster parents.

I Can’t be a Foster Parent Right Now – How Else Can I Help?

While there are endless benefits and joys that come with foster parenting, it’s understandable that it’s not for everyone at every time. If you’re unable to foster a child right now, but still want to support the cause, there are a variety of ways to get involved by offering your time, talent, and treasure.

If it’s time you want to give, TFI Family Connections is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help support our mission and the children and families we serve. Volunteers can help throughout the year at one of our many events, serving on a planning committee, or taking part in the event itself. You can also volunteer for TFI Family Connections’s annual Foster Care Parent Retreat, where the children are supervised while foster parents spend the day in workshops and classes. This is a great chance to interact with foster children, even if just for the day!

Or, offer some respite care for foster parents! Give them a night off (or even a few free hours to run some errands!). This gift of time for self-care and relaxation can mean the world to busy families. The sky is really the limit here, so feel free to think outside the box: mow the family’s lawn; take their car in for a tune-up; offer to help clean their house once a month.

TFI Family Connections is also always looking for those with special skills and talents to support our mission, our space, and our kids. Those with skills in construction, AC/heating, and electrical are critical in helping with maintenance projects. You can also help out by teaching a class in computers, sewing, or cooking. Are you a doctor or dentist? Donate your services. Cut hair for a living? Give a few free cuts!

Lastly, TFI Family Connections would be nowhere without the long-standing financial assistance of its dedicated supporters. Donations help fund educational scholarships, independent living programs, foster parent training classes, and crucial upgrades to your systems and facilities.

While foster parents receive a stipend for their service, there isn’t always a influx of extra funds to helps provide additional essentials (or nice-to-have non-essentials). In-kind donations can be the difference between a child being able to play a musical instrument, take part in a sport, or go on a class field-trip. Gift cards to fun places like the zoo, museums, or local restaurants are a great way to help foster parents. You could also consider memberships to local clubs, pools, or rec centers. Or, sponsor a special day, and help build memories for the kids in foster care, by funding a a birthday or holiday celebration. And don’t forget the big back-to-school rush: students and families could always use a hand with supplies, book bags, and clothes.

Don’t know what you want to do, but know you want to help? Just give us a call at 866-543-9810 and we’ll connect you with something great and worthwhile!

5 Myths About Foster Care

If you’re considering foster care, you likely have a long list of questions about the process and what to expect.

With so much information out there to help prepare you, there’s also plenty of misinformation and myths that might confuse you. Don’t let these misconceptions overshadow the many benefits of foster care.

Here are five common foster care myths, and the real truth behind them.

  1. You have to quit your job to have time to be a foster parent.
    Just as it would be for any biological parent, staying at home 24/7 with the foster child is not a requirement, as long as you can make it work. You’ll work with the foster agency to plan out childcare. If the child is in school, you’ll need to arrange and account for before and after-school care. If the child is not yet in school, you can arrange for a babysitter or other childcare.
  2. All foster children are difficult and hard to manage.
    Some foster children come with some emotional and physical issues, but that is to be expected, as they’ve likely been through a lot. With the consistency and loving environment of a foster home, though, foster children can learn better coping mechanisms and ways to overcome their struggles. By fostering these, or any, children, foster parents have the chance to create a positive impact on their lives.
  3. I can’t foster if I’m not already a parent.
    Individuals aren’t required to already be parents before they foster. People who choose to become foster parents must simply demonstrate a commitment to the child, and the willingness to learn how to best care for them. Already having a child is not a prerequisite for loving and caring for a child. Foster parents also have the opportunity to take classes and workshops to be better prepared. TFI Family Connections even offers an extensive range of programs and trainings to get parents, new or not, ready to foster a child.
  4. I can’t foster if I’m not married.
    There is no marriage rule when it comes to foster parenting. The foster parent must be at least 21-years-old and healthy (and will have to prove this by seeing a doctor before fostering), and must pass a required background check. All walks of life can be considered for foster care, as long as the individual is able to provide a loving and stable home to the child.
  5. I have to make lots of money if I want to be a foster parent.
    Foster parents need to show financial responsibility and stability, but by no means do they need to be wealthy. Child welfare programs will assist with necessary expenses, helping offset the cost of a child. Just as you don’t have to be married or already a parent, people with all kinds of backgrounds can foster. The essential component here is that the child is well-cared for and their needs are met.

May 2018 – Between Families Newsletter

Keep Calm… Summer is coming!

Enjoy this summer but take a few precautions to protect your child(ren) and yourself from some of the more dangerous aspects of this season. Here are some summer safety tips and ideas on what to do this summer.

Foster Care vs. Adoption: Differences and Similarities

Welcoming a child into your home to provide them with a safe and stable place is both a noble and important undertaking. This can happen in a variety of ways, including both foster care and adoption.

Foster care and adoption allow you to love and support a child, opening your heart and home to someone who needs it the most. While both are serious commitments full of benefits and opportunities to play a pivotal role in the life of a child, there are many differences between the two. A myriad of circumstances makes a child eligible for foster care and adoption, and there are a variety of differences to think about.

First, the way a child enters each process if very different. A child becomes part of the foster care system after it has been deemed they are living in an unsafe or neglectful environment. Placement of a foster child is done through a state or social service agency.

In foster care, the child’s legal guardian still (typically) maintains all parental rights for the child. Although these rights are managed by the state, they remain intact unless the child is placed for adoption. This comes into play when considering educational, medical, and even religious decisions for the child. With adoption, full legal custody and rights are granted to the adoptive parents. Care for the child is entirely the responsibility of the adoptive parent or parents.

Once a child has entered the foster care system, the biological parent does not get to select where, or with whom, the child will go. With adoption, on the other hand, placement typically involves the biological parent in some way.

The length of stay is also a significant difference between foster care and adoption. While there is no set time-limit, and foster care can sometimes lead to adoption, foster care is a temporary placement. This can be weeks, years, or an even more long-term placement. Children stay in foster care until they can be placed back with their biological family or into a permanent adopted home.

Foster parents receive regular stipends from the government for essential expenses of raising the children placed in their home. On the other hand, adoption is an out-of-pocket expense, starting with the adoption fees themselves, to the cost of raising the child.

Both avenues require extensive background checks and additional medical testing, but as a foster parent, you must take caregiver and parent trainings to ensure you are providing the best care for the child. While these trainings are offered by many different organizations, and to a variety of people, they are not a requirement for adoptive parents.

For both scenarios, it is important to consider what is right for the individual’s current situation. The many benefits of foster care and adoption can work better for some than others, and it’s critical to evaluate what will be best for you (which will ultimately work out best for the child). Both come with incredible benefits, for you and the child, and are life-changing ways to make a difference in someone’s life.