Foster parents are our heroes, providing care for children who need it the most. They provide love and guidance to children who are unable to live with their biological families. They partner with a child’s community to secure the best life for him or her and help to make positive changes in the lives of children and families daily.
If the decision to become a foster parent has tugged at your heart, but common misconceptions have kept you from taking the first step in the journey, let us help to dispel those myths and provide insight into the reality of fostering.
Our foster care specialists have identified the top-ranked 10 myths of foster care based on their experience working with families.
Myth 1: The only way to get involved is to provide full-time foster care or to adopt.
An incredibly valued way to be involved in fostering is to become a part-time caregiver or respite provider. Full-time foster parents need breaks occasionally for various reasons and may need additional help. Respite providers play an important role in caring for our children and our full-time foster parents!
Respite caregivers go through a similar licensing process as full-time foster parents, and they are also reimbursed at the same rate as foster parents for the days a child is in the home. The maximum number of days a respite provider can care for children at one time is 14.
Myth 2: Foster care is only for young couples.
Fostering is perfect for the empty-nesters or baby boomers who love kids and know they can continue to have a positive impact on children and families in our community. Several of our foster parents are couples who have raised their own children and still long for the joy of having children in their homes.
Myth 3: All children in foster care have suffered intense trauma.
More often than not, children in foster care are there due to neglect. In fact, in Texas last year 69% of confirmed victims were children who had suffered neglectful supervision. The rate for neglect was higher in north Texas at 78%.* While these children may not have suffered physical abuse, studies show that neglect has just as a profound impact on children as abuse.
Our foster parents receive ongoing, specialized training to care for children who have experienced crises and trauma. Each of our foster families are also assigned a full-time foster and adopt specialist to provide continuous support.
Myth 4: I can’t foster if I have a full-time job outside of the home.
You do not have to be a stay-at-home parent to foster. If both parents in the household work full-time, you may be responsible for covering the daycare expense until reimbursement is approved. This is generally 2-4 weeks. It’s beneficial if one or both of the parents in the household have flexibility in their work schedules. Biological parental visits and court dates will not work around the foster parents’ schedules.
Myth 5: As a foster parent, I will receive little to no support. Once I’m licensed, I’ll be on my own.
Absolutely not! ACH provides continued services to our foster parents, including training, respite care, available staff, and family events. ACH foster parents are assigned a foster care and adoption specialist who is on call for support 24 hours a day. ACH’s specialists have lower than average caseloads in order to provide quality support to our foster parents.
There’s no doubt that serving as a foster parent is a difficult role at times, but what parenting role doesn’t have its challenges? Foster parents make an incredible difference every day through strength-based guidance, love and compassion for the children they take into their care. They are truly heroes.
Myth 6: I have no control over choosing the children I foster.
You can’t choose the specific children you foster, but you can specify the age range you prefer and how many children you would like to care for at one time. The greatest need in our region is caregivers for sibling groups (varying ages), youth ages 7 to 16 years, and teen moms.
Foster parents can choose whether or not to accept a placement. However, once a placement is accepted, it’s encouraged to preserve the placement in order to provide stability for the children in care.
Myth 7: Minorities are over-represented in foster care.
The representation of children in foster care is based on a region’s population and child population demographics. In Texas, the top three ethnicity categories of children in foster care consists of 39.2% of the population being Hispanic, 32% Anglo and 22.4% African American.*
Myth 8: Most children in foster care are teenagers.
Last year, 74.3% of all children in Texas foster care were under the age of 14 years, with the largest percentage (23.5%) being birth to 2 years.* However, many children (approximately 70%) who come in to care are in sibling groups with varying ages.
While it may be a fact that most children in foster care are not teenagers, there is a great need for foster parents who have the skills and are willing to care for children ages 14 to 17 years. It’s vital for this population to have a family and support system to turn to as they reach adulthood.
Myth 9: The biological parents of children in foster care are a danger to me and my family.
The decision for children to have continued contact with their birth family depends on the situation. The best placement options are considered for the child and the court decides whether the parental visits will be supervised.
Most children placed in a foster home will have regular, court-ordered visits with their birth parents that are supervised by Child Protective Services. This is an important part of the reunification process.
For adoptive placements, most children do not have contact with their biological parents after the termination of parental rights and adoption. Children can choose to have contact with their biological parents once they turn 18.
Myth 10: Each foster child has to have a room of his or her own.
Each child is required to have a bed of his or her own, not a room. In some instances, children of the opposite sex may share a room if they are under a certain age (usually six years), specified by the State. There cannot be more than four children in a room and behavioral concerns can also prevent children from sharing a room.
*Statistical data referenced was provided by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services 2015 Data Book.