Foster Care Month: Debunking the Myths – The Realities of Foster Care

The celebration of National Foster Care Month has reminded us all how important foster care really is. Many choose to discuss the rewarding experience that followed when a family was forever changed by a youth in need, while others bring up the statistics and numbers. Whatever one might say, here is one absolute truth about foster care- there is a dire need for more help. Though while many have thought of the idea of fostering a child, many misconceptions have stood in their way.

This May, National Youth Advocate Program is sharing myths and facts that every potential foster parent asks during that pivotal time. It’s important to ask these questions to ensure that you are making the right choice, and we are here to make sure you are getting the proper information and facts.

MYTH: I have to have children and parenting experience.

REALITY: We get many people that want to open their homes to foster care, but are worried about of their lack of experience in parenting. There are many foster parents that don’t have biological children of their own, though they mature and responsible adults that want to commit to caring for children in need.

The truth is that many children just want someone that to be there for them. They’ve been through more in their lives than many people can be imagine, and having a guardian that is there to support and love them is just enough. We are here for you too and through our extensive trainings and coaching sessions, to prepare you for all the “parenting skills” you may need.

MYTH: Children in foster care have experienced trauma that is beyond repair.

REALITY: It’s true that some children in the foster care system come from homes that many fear will cause issues within the foster parenting process. Though many don’t realize what something as simple as love, care, and support can do for a child. The decision to commit yourself to another individual’s life is one of the hardest decisions to make, but it also carries so many rewards.

One of the most important needs of a foster child are dedicated parents to step forward and take a chance on them, thereby helping them reach their full potential. Think of it as an opportunity to positively impact a child who has experienced so much. Foster parents are able teach them healthy coping skills and help them grow into a thriving individual.

MYTH: I have no control over which child is placed in my foster home.

REALITY: 

The process to become a foster parent consist of a series of steps designed to allow us to get to know you and your family to help determine the type of youth that would best fit into your home. A number of conversations take place where we are then able to match that to the child’s individual needs. Also, this is the best time for you to share with us what you feel like the best fit for your family will be.

There will always be an opportunity for you to ask questions and find out more about the child. Plus, our staff will never place you with a child that we don’t feel like would be a good fit.

MYTH: I would get too attached to a child and it would be too hard to see them leave.

REALITY: One of the first things we stress to our prospective foster parents is that reunification with the birth family is the main goal. Foster children need the love, care and stability that you can provide as their temporary family until they are able to return safely to their biological family.

It’s true, you will get attached and you will be sad when the child you grew to love and care for leaves. Though we encourage you to take that sadness and put it towards helping the many other children in foster care who need safe and loving homes.

MYTH: Once a child is placed with you, there is no support.

REALITY: We value the commitment that new foster parents are making, as we know it is not an easy task. We offer a number of programs and resources as well as 24/7 support for any questions, information or concerns you may have.

You will never be alone in this process.

MYTH: Foster parents can’t make a difference if a child has been through too much

REALITY: All children have the potential to thrive. Foster parents can, and often do, forever change an abused or neglected child’s life for the better. By simply demonstrating that they’re cared for and not alone, you can make the biggest difference in a child’s life.

Regardless of their background and the amount of trauma they might have endured, foster kids are able to thrive when placed in the right environment. There are countless examples as many foster children grow up to be teachers, doctors and advocates themselves.

There has never been more of a crucial time than now to discuss Foster Care in our country. It’s important to have these discussions so that we are able to distinguish the myths from realities and share all the rewarding factors of becoming a foster parent. Misconceptions about foster care have prevented so many great candidates from providing loving homes to children in need. During National Foster Care Month, let’s all do our part in ensuring the discussion doesn’t end so that we can continue to help those children everywhere.