Foster Care Overview
Kids enter foster care through no fault of their own–typically because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned and are unable to continue living safely with their families.
Throughout the United States, there are over 400,000* children and youth in foster care. The only thing permanent in their lives is the state in which they live. For many of these children and youth, the thought of being welcomed into a family seems like an unattainable dream. But with more than 300,000 churches throughout the US, those dreams could become a reality for many children.
Foster parents are needed in every part of our country. Being a successful foster parent is hard work. It requires opening yourself and your home. But it can also be the most gratifying work you will ever consider. The heart of it, of course, involves working directly with children and their families. But foster care also involves partnering with social workers, schools, and community resources to meet the needs of an infant, child, or teen. Different types of people can make good foster parents, since we all have our own special talents. But keep in mind that foster parenting is not for everyone. If your family is thinking about foster care, contact an agency near you and begin the discussion.
Types of Foster Care
- Respite care. Every parent needs a break. Respite care providers step in to give foster parents needed time off—from a few hours to a weekend or more—usually on a regularly scheduled basis.
- Emergency or urgent care. These foster parents agree to be on call and to accept short-term placements as the need arises, including at night and on the weekends.
- Kinship care. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members who agree to care for children are called “kinship” caregivers. Kinship care can be an informal or legal arrangement. Kinship Caregivers and the Child Welfare System(575 KB PDF), from Child Welfare Information Gateway, provides information about both arrangements.
- Therapeutic or treatment foster care. Children and youth who have a higher degree of social, behavioral, or mental health needs, and who may require more intensive services, are cared for by therapeutic foster parents. These caregivers receive additional special training and support to be part of the care team responding to the needs of children in their home.
- Foster-to-adopt care. Many families foster with the intention of adopting, a practice that an increasing number of states are encouraging. Fostering to adopt has many benefits, including reducing the number of placements a child experiences, and allowing a family to bond. This is sometimes referred to as “dual licensing.”
No matter which type of foster care you choose to pursue, you will need to work with an organization to complete paperwork, a background check, training, and a home study. A licensed placement agency can also help answer specific questions about which type of care is best suited to you and your family.
*Definitions taken from the Adopt US Kids, https://adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/overview/foster-parenting
*Referral to websites not produced by Rescue 100 is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites’ content.