Foster Care

Debunking Foster Care Myths and Misconceptions

Foster care myths make it harder to find homes for kids in care who really need a place to feel safe and loved. Read on to learn the real truths!

Think about what you've heard about foster care

Maybe you've heard that only certain types of people can foster kids or that only young children are in care. 

These foster care myths can stop incredible people from opening their homes to kids who really need a place to feel safe and loved!

Foster care is all about helping kids who can't live with their own families right now. It doesn't matter if:

  • You're not rich
  • You’re not married
  • You rent or lease your home
  • If you don't own a big house
  • If you're not what some people think of as a "perfect" family

What really matters is that you have space in your heart and home to give a child some stability and care during a tough time in their life.

In this blog, we're going to tackle some big myths about foster care head-on!

Myth #1: Foster Care is Only For Young Children

Many people think that foster care is just for little kids or infants, but that's not true!

  • Children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, need foster homes. In fact, there are many teenagers and older kids in foster care right now who are looking for a caring and supportive family.
  • When we look at the numbers, it's clear that the need for homes for older children and teenagers is really big — 36% of children in care are over the age of 11! These older kids make up a significant part of the foster care system. They often stay longer in the system than younger children, waiting for someone to welcome them into their home.
  • Just like younger kids, teens in care might have gone through tough times at home or experienced things that mean they can't live with their family right now. They need a safe place to stay, just like anyone else.
  • Some people worry that older kids will be more challenging or that they won't bond as well with them. However, many who have opened their homes to teenagers share amazing stories. They talk about the joy of seeing a young person grow, learn, and prepare for adulthood with their support.

Teenagers in care have dreams and goals just like any other kid. They need foster parents who will believe in them, encourage them, and help them build toward adulthood!

Myth #2: You Have to Be Married to Become a Foster Parent 

A lot of people think that you need to be married if you want to be a foster parent. But that's not how it works — you can be a single foster parent!

  • States and agencies across the country welcome people who are single, divorced, or widowed to become foster parents. What matters most is not your marital status but your ability to provide a safe, loving, and supportive environment for children.
  • The focus is instead on what you can offer a child: stability, care, and attention. They check things like your home environment, your financial stability, and how prepared you are to meet a child's needs. They also offer skill development opportunities to help you get ready for the unique challenges and rewards of foster parenting.
  • Single foster parents bring unique perspectives, strengths, and compassion to their roles as foster parents. So, if you're on your own and thinking about fostering, know that there's a place for you.

Your marital status isn't a barrier; it's just one part of your life story that you bring to the foster parenting experience.

Myth #3: Foster Parents Have to Own Their Homes

Whether you rent an apartment, live in a rented house, or even a mobile home — you can be a foster parent!

  • The most important thing is not whether you own your place but if your home is a safe, stable, and loving environment for a child.
  • Agencies that oversee foster care are looking for homes that can provide children with the security and care they need. They check to make sure the living space is safe and has enough room for a child. They're interested in things like working smoke detectors, safe windows, and locks on doors. 
  • They also want to see that the child would have a space to call their own, like a bed and a place to keep their belongings.

The key takeaway is that your living situation, whether owned or rented, just needs to meet the safety and space standards set by the state.

Myth #4: Foster Parents Are All On Their Own

It's a common misconception that once you become a foster parent, you're left to figure things out by yourself. This couldn't be further from the truth!

  • In reality, foster parents have access to a wide range of support and resources designed to help them through the journey of fostering.
  • Before you even welcome a child in care into your home, you'll go through comprehensive preservice sessions. These skill development opportunities cover everything from understanding the emotional and behavioral challenges children in care might face to how to communicate effectively with them.
  • Foster parents also receive financial support to help cover the costs associated with caring for a child.
    • This can include a monthly stipend for food, clothing, and other necessities, as well as coverage for medical care through state programs.
    • Some states also provide additional resources for educational needs or special activities to ensure kids in care have a well-rounded upbringing.

You are never alone. When you decide to become a foster parent, you’ll have the backing of the organization you partnered with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help! 

Myth #5: Children in Care Are Always Problematic or Have Behavioral Issues

Some people think that all children in care have behavioral problems or are difficult to care for, but it's not that simple. 

  • Children in foster care have often have experienced challenging life circumstances, like losing their homes or being separated from their families. These experiences can bring out many emotions, like sadness, anger, or confusion, which might show in different ways.
  • It's important to remember that these kids are trying to deal with huge changes in their lives. Imagine how hard it would be if you suddenly had to live with new people in a new place, away from everything familiar. You'd probably feel upset or act out, too!

Foster parents play a huge role in helping these children heal and grow. By providing a stable and loving home, foster parents can be the difference. 

Giving kids in care a few months to warm up to you is a tremendous gift you can give. When they first arrive, they’re waiting to see how you will treat them with all of their past experiences in tow. This is exactly why foster parents go through preservice sessions to prepare them for the signs of trauma and how to respond.

Myth #6: You Need to Have Parenting Experience to Foster

A lot of people think you need to have experience with raising kids before you can become a foster parent — and that's not true. 

  • Many foster parents come into fostering without having had children of their own. What's really important is your willingness to open your heart and home to a child in need. Plus, there's plenty of help along the way to get you ready for this big role.
  • Before you start fostering, you'll go through preservice sessions. These aren't just any classes — they're designed to teach you about the kinds of experiences children in care may have gone through and how those experiences might affect their behavior and needs. 
  • You'll learn how to communicate effectively with children who have been through trauma, how to support their healing, and how to manage any challenges that come up.

Myth #7: You Can’t Foster If You Work Full Time

Many people believe that you can't be a foster parent if you have a full-time job. But that's not true. In fact, many foster parents work full time and still provide loving, stable homes for children in care. The key is finding the right balance and using the resources available to you. 

Here's how working foster parents can manage:

  • Childcare services - Just like parents who have biological or adopted children, foster parents can use childcare services.
    • This includes daycares, after-school programs, and summer camps.
    • Many states offer financial assistance to cover childcare costs for kids in care, making it easier for working parents to ensure their child is cared for and engaged while they work.
  • Flexible working arrangements - More and more workplaces are offering flexible working arrangements.
    • This might mean having a flexible schedule, being able to work from home part of the week, or adjusting your hours to better fit your child’s needs.
    • Don't hesitate to talk to your employer about your role as a foster parent; you might find they're more accommodating than you expect.
  • Support from agencies - Foster care agencies understand that many potential foster parents work full-time and are prepared to support them.
    • They can offer advice on managing your schedule, accessing childcare services, and even provide support for emergency situations.
    • Agencies also often provide skill development sessions during evenings or weekends so that working individuals can attend.
  • Building a support network - Having a strong support network can make a big difference.
    • This might include family, friends, neighbors, or other foster parents who can help with school pickups, babysitting, or just being there when you need an extra hand. 
    • Support groups for foster parents are a great place to build this network.

Myth #8: You Can't Foster If You're LGBTQ+

The belief that LGBTQ+ individuals and couples cannot foster is a widespread myth that needs to be addressed. The truth is that many foster care agencies across the country are committed to inclusivity and welcoming LGBTQ+ applicants.

  • Many foster care agencies have clear policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • These policies ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals and couples are evaluated by the same criteria as any other prospective foster parents, which primarily focus on the ability to provide a loving, safe, and stable environment for a child.
  • Children in foster care come from a wide range of backgrounds, and it's important that the pool of foster parents reflects this diversity.
  • LGBTQ+ foster parents can offer unique perspectives and understanding, especially for children who may be navigating their own questions about identity.

Learn All About Fostering in Our Upcoming Webinar

Now that you know some of the important truths of foster care, are you ready to learn even more?

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today to get started!

Sign Up For The Webinar →

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