Hardesty Law Blog

What you should know about foster parenting

By August 11, 2017 No Comments

Becoming a foster parent can be one of the most rewarding, selfless acts we could perform in our short lifetimes. Helping little children through the most vulnerable, difficult and emotionally testing phases of their life and showering them with, often times, our own hard earned money, housing them, clothing them and loving them are just some of the duties expected of us as foster parents. There is no better way to serve the community than to help raise its weakest members into powerful, independent individuals who can in return help other poor children.

Before you begin the difficult but ambitious journey of raising someone else’s child, there are a couple of formalities and rules that you must follow. The most important of which is to contact your local social service agency and file a proper application process to become a state certified foster parent. You will be taken through an orientation session briefing you about the rights of both foster children and parents within the child welfare system. You will be required to provide the child adequate access to health care and a proper education.  Consult with attorneys at Midlothian TX to familiarize yourself with some of these laws and requirements.

Remember that these children have been removed from their homes by courts for a reason; most of them have undergone severe neglect from their parents or even worse, child abuse which may potentially have scarred them for life. You have been entrusted by the courts to not only help them grow into stable, responsible individuals, but also to help them cope with any abuse they may have gone through.

Child social service agencies will look through your background, family stability, financial capacity and your household environment before allowing you to take up a child under foster care. Consult attorneys at Midlothian TX to know more about what specific conditions you need to meet before going through social service agencies.

Some of the common reasons why you could be disqualified from becoming a foster parent are as follows;

Your income doesn’t meet a certain minimum threshold

There have been cases of selfish individuals fostering children with the specific intent to extract as much state money as possible. This goes into their own personal coffers while the child under their care suffers from hunger pangs. Social service agencies don’t generally allow this kind of behavior and stipulate that families must have a stable income so they’re not tempted to spend the money that was issued for the child on themselves. Families struggling with meeting their own day to day needs are disqualified in most cases, unless they can promise to generate higher income in the near future.

Proper accommodation

You can’t expect to live with the foster child inside of a trailer built to house only one person! Many states stipulate that families have access to a house (whether by purchasing or renting one), which should be sufficiently large to adequately accommodate a child without  posing any inconvenience to their physical needs such as eating, studying, playing, and sleeping – this should be true for all occupants of the house as well.

In addition, they should adhere to both state and local zoning, building and fire safety codes. The place must not be in disrepair and should be clean, so cockroach infested kitchens are a big no-no. Harmful materials such as weapons and medicines should be kept at places that are out of the children’s reach. Some states even require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed near areas where the children might be sleeping.

The place must also have reasonable access to appliances that are generally considered ubiquitous throughout the US, such as telephones, refrigerators and bathrooms with provision of both hot and cold running water. Don’t worry, the state doesn’t require you to furnish the place with the latest video gaming gadgets – but that would be a plus, especially if you’re looking to impress the social service agencies.

Not have a criminal background

Any recent run-ins with the law could result in instant disqualification, this is especially true if the background was marred by a violent criminal history such as domestic violence and battery charges. State laws require you to go through proper screening tools such as having your fingerprints checked against the national database records. Those convicted of serious crimes such as rape and murder might never be allowed to get a foster parenting license. Perhaps the most obvious of disqualifications will be handed out to individuals convicted of child abuse cases.

Some states are so strict that they require all family members of the household to go through background checks. Even juvenile court records are taken into consideration.

When your own home is broken

Some couples can be disqualified during the certification process if the agencies decide that the family is broken. They tend to ask really personal questions about the couple’s own stability before coming to any conclusion. This actually makes sense – why send a child who may be recovering from the scarring experience of a broken home to a place that is also in conflict.

 

While the above reasons of disqualification could frighten some would-be foster parents, there are certain characteristics which you can adopt and master. The following points will definitely help you gain approval for becoming a foster parent.

Being patient

Even biological parents tend to quickly run out of patience. But just like them, you’re in it for the long haul now and you should treat the child as though it was your very own. You will not be able to derive any financial benefits from being a foster parent.  You shouldn’t expect the child to shower you with gratitude and respect; remember that they may be recovering from severe trauma and might be expecting the same punishment from you. You will have to patiently win over their trust, their gratitude and eventually their love.

Don’t get offended if the child vents their frustrations out on you

Remember that this person is still a child and needs someone to vent their emotional frustrations out on. This person usually tends to be the foster parent – the very person that committed themselves to this child in the first place. You will have to become their punching bag and will have to sustain all the damage while giving only love and kindness in return. At times they will curse at you, scream at you and even turn violent towards you. If you allow their behavior to affect yours, the child won’t really have benefited from moving to a new home would they?

Ability to let the child go

The objective of foster care is to nurture the child long enough for them to become independent and move on with their life without falling pretty to the oppressive world at large. When the time comes, you will have to let them go even if it takes an emotional toll on you. If your relationship with the child was based on good terms, then the goodbyes are probably not forever. You can always connect with them through phone, chat or even drop by at their place sometime.

Do family members support your decision to become a foster child?

Usually you’re not the only person living inside the house – there are other members of the household sharing the same roof with you. It is important for you to coordinate with them and seek their approval before bringing a child into your care. If your family’s attitude is not supportive towards this decision, then it might not end well for the foster child who could face abuse and ill-treatment from them. Social service agencies are sometimes required to not just psychologically assess the foster parent, but also other family members living in the same house.

Before making the life changing decision of becoming a foster parent, it is advisable for you to make an appointment with attorneys at Midlothian TX to get proper legal advice.