Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Becoming a Foster Family

When we first began to foster we had someone ask us, “How can you make a difference in a young life when they are only with you for a short time?” As I have thought about this over the years I wonder, “How can you not make a difference in that young life?” When a child enters your home, if only for a short time, they are able to see the love of Christ lived out on a daily basis. They are able to see how parents love and lovingly discipline and teach their children; they see a secure family.

It takes a different type of commitment to be a foster family than an adoptive family. Because of the uncertainties that are inherent in fostering your faith will be challenged in new ways. Your reliance upon the Lord and His sovereignty will grow as you trust the Lord for all the details. Your hearts will be stretched to new limits as you begin to love a child that may not stay with your family forever.

“If this job is so hard than why do it?” you might ask. I think the only answer for a believing family is, "that the Lord has called us to fostering." To those families I would remind you that even when the Lord calls you to something it isn’t necessarily easy. It is perseverance that gets you through different stages of fostering, whether it be waiting for a court date or dealing with some other difficulty. Scripture tells us in James 1:4-5 that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” Let the Lord use your time as a foster family to refine you and your family.

Getting Started

So how do we become a foster family? The process itself is fairly easy though it does include several steps.

1. Choose a local agency that you will work with.

  • Talk with the agency.
  • Ask them: How they place their children?
  • Are they in need of fosterfamilies for a certain age group?
  • What type of support do they offer after a child is placed?
  • What does the agency expect from their foster families?
  • As with anything some people you will mesh with right away, others you might want to check off your list.

1a. This would be a good time to also get together with a family/families you know that have been or are currently fostering. Ask them about their experiences - good and bad, helpful hints, etc.

2. Attend PRIDE Training.

* Requirement in our state.

*9 weeks of class, each class is 3 hours

*Both foster parents must attend each session,
possible make-up of missed class.

*Followed by 2 weeks of Educational
- only one parent required to attend.

Currently, BBC is hosting on-site PRIDE training twice a year.

3. Simultaneously, you will be meeting with your licensing representative from your agency. You will be required to do such things as, but not limited to:

-A physical on each person living in your home.

-Obtain a copy of your marriage certificate, driver's licenses.

-Fingerprinting on any person over the age of 18.

-Criminal background check.

You will also be answering many questions regarding your childhood, family history, your family's feeling about fostering. Also, how you parent, discipline, handle conflict in your marriage, etc.

The licensing rep. will conduct home visits also during this time. Our experience is that they are willing to work with your schedule. (On an ongoing basis a licensing rep will visit your home every 6 months).

The agency will walk you through each step. Often it is your willingness to gather the needed paperwork that keeps things on track. If you have questions along the way give the agency a call. If they are questions you want to talk about in person write them down so when the licensing rep visits you won't forget to ask your questions.

It is during this time with your licensing rep. you can decide the age/sex of the child or children you are willing to take. You will be given a checklist of things that you would be willing to accept in a child. Be realistic. It is much better for everyone if you are honest about what you can handle. Pray about who the Lord desires for you to reach out to in this way. Be thoughtful about the children that you may already have in your home. Remembering, sometimes things are inconvenient while other times things are best not entered into.

4. Once licensed you will wait. Be in prayer during this time of waiting for the child that will come into your home. Pray for your heart to be accepting of them and for the Lord to use you in that child's life for His glory.

There will be many questions, most have answers, but be prepared for some unknown as you foster. Each child is uniquely put together, each case is distinctly different. You may not agree with everything that you are presented with but you do need to understand the regulations that you are required to follow.

This is a ministry that your entire family can be a part of and one in which you could very possibly change the course of a child's life for eternity.

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