When you think about foster care or foster parents, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Honestly - is it that foster parents don't actually care about the kids? Or is it that they are only in it for the money? Or is it that the system just doesn't work? I sat down with foster parents and asked them what it is really like for them. Granted, these foster parents are in Florida and every state has different regulations and rules.
There are multiple steps to becoming a foster parent, some take weeks to complete while others take days and some take months.
There is a 6-week course that is the first step, each class is 8 hours a day. Then there is a packet that must be filled out by each individual or couple that wants to be a foster parent. There are surveys sent to every individual that the candidate knows, from their neighbors to their own biological kids and even their jobs. There is a home study, where there is an inspection on every inch of the house as well as the outside of the house. The babysitter must be fingerprinted and background checked. There are multiple surprise visits by the state, many counselors that come over, case managers and guardians that come over most days of the week. There is such an in-depth screening process, it takes from 6-9 months to get licensed.
And for those that believe they are in it for the money...
If you factor in how much it costs to take care of a child, even if it is just for a few months or for just a few years it costs a large amount of money. They get a stipend each month that averages from about $450-500 depending on the age child. But this is for food, clothes, and any other items they might need, like a baby who would need diapers or wipes, or if the child has a medical need like an inhaler. There are a lot of things that have to be factored into money they get, 400 dollars disappear in moments especially when it comes to kids. Not to mention most of the kids come broken to these foster parents so they are dealing with attitudes, meltdowns, violent behaviors, etc. from kids that aren't even theirs.
There are a few bad foster parents in the world, there are always going to be a few bad apples on the tree. But for the most part, foster parents do it because they care, and they want to be able to take care of these kids that have no other options.