In Which I Talk About Foster Care (Part Two)
The more I've talked about this topic, the more I've realized that not many people actually know what foster care is or the specifics of it. In this post, I'll focus on some of the questions that people frequently ask.
~how do the foster children come into care?
Over 75% of children are removed from their homes because of neglect. Removing children from their homes is a large step, and so there must be something seriously wrong for children to be taken away from their parents. If the state determines that their home is an unsafe place for the child(ren), then they are usually moved to a foster home. This means that these kids are wards of the state--not belonging to their parents, nor to the foster parents. Foster families normally get only a few hours (if that) to get ready for a foster child to come into their home.
~do foster parents get to choose if they take a child or not?
Foster parents are never forced to take a child. If they can't take a baby, but would be open to having an older child, they may be asked to take a baby, but they are always welcome to say no. In fact, sometimes families are only allowed to have a certain age range or gender in their home, depending on the space that they have. (For example, previously we could only take boys, because we had room for a child to stay only in my brother's room.)
~are the children frequently moved through different foster homes?
Evidently, many foster children go through more than four homes before finding a permanent place to stay. This is sad. Being constantly moved from home to home can mess up a child's sense of security and trust in adults. Many foster homes decide that they are willing to foster and not adopt, meaning that if the children's parents cannot get them back, the kids must be moved to a different home. Sometimes children cannot stay at a particular home for a reason--maybe the family cannot keep them logistically, or maybe it's the home of a family member that has also been deemed unsafe. So yes, most children are moved through different homes many times before finding permanency.
~how long are foster children usually in care?
The average time that a child is in foster care is 9-12 months. Our family has had very different cases--our first case, a little boy who stayed with us for the minimum three weeks before his family was ready to take him home, and our current situation, two baby boys who have been with us for almost eighteen months. Eighteen months is a long time for a child to be left without a plan in place for their future...right now it looks like we'll be adopting these boys, but we have a long journey ahead of us before that can happen.
~what if a parent doesn't want their child to be in foster care?
They don't have a choice. If their home is an unsafe place for a child to live, or they have been abused or neglected, CPS can legally take the child away from their home. This only happens in drastic measures, though: if the child is in serious danger living there. After this, until the parent (or other family member) has shown major improvements and jumped through all kinds of hoops to show that they can care for their child(ren), they may only see their child through supervised visitations, working up to unsupervised or overnight visits.
what questions do you have about foster care? drop them below, and I'll answer in a future post!