If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you may be curious as to how fostering will impact your daily life. Some changes are unique to fostering children, while other changes occur with the addition of a new family member.
Behaviors and Needs
Each foster child will have their own unique set of and needs and circumstances that brought them into foster care. The circumstances are often abuse and neglect.
Children who have endured abuse and neglect may have behaviors. Some behaviors may be disturbing or just plain annoying. These behaviors may also have a negative impact on other children in the home. This will also include the amount of time you have for your children. Are you ready to give up peaceful evenings and weekends? Are you reading to help a foster child process their feelings and work through behaviors? Fostering a child will change the atmosphere of your home and the amount of time you have for your children.
Foster parents are also responsible for transporting foster children to and from appointments. Be prepared to fit weekly and monthly appointments into your schedule. Some of these appointments may be last minute. Fostering will add appointments to your schedule.
Social workers will also be making monthly visits to your home to check on how your family is adjusting and to visit the children.
Be ready for various workers and team members to walk-through your home during visits. Also know that if a social worker comes to your home, you are required to let them in your house. Fostering a child will bring lots of professionals into your life and home.
Traveling and Entertainment
Before traveling with a foster child, depending on the distance and whether or not you leave the state, foster parents need to get permission.
A call into a social worker will be enough for most day travels, but out of state may take permission from the court. Foster children are also not allowed to participate in risky activities, such as boating, skiing, and some sports without permission from their parents or their social workers. If you are used to last minute traveling and fun, this will be an adjustment you will need to make. Fostering will change how spontaneous of a person you are with travel and some entertainment.
Your schedule will change with the addition of appointments and social worker visits, but it'll also change because kids need to have a consistent, predictable schedule. They need to be home and in bed at a certain every night. Dinner needs to be ready and on the table as well as time for homework. Do you enjoy sleeping in on the weekends? Some kids are up early every morning, no matter if it's a weekday or a weekend. Fostering will impact your schedule.
Each state has their own regulations and rules for fostering families. Often these regulations are around issues that may be a safety concern for children, such as swimming pools, recreational sports, and even the use of basement bedrooms.
In the state of Kansas foster children are not allowed to jump on trampolines and foster families are not allowed to have trampolines on their property. If you already have a trampoline, how will your children feel if you have to remove it? Are you ready to spend the money for fencing around a pool? Check with your state's regulations on the height requirement for pools before adding a fence. Some states will not allow foster parents to smoke in their car or inside their home. Foster parents are asked to step outside and be several feet from the door, before lighting up, even at their own home. Fostering a child will mean changing different aspects of your home and yard in order to meet state regulations.
Foster parents are not allowed to use discipline that makes their foster children uncomfortable, this includes spanking. To be a foster parent, you must be willing to alter how you would parent a foster child. Fostering a child will change how you use discipline in your home.
Normal Changes that Occur When a Family Adds a Child
While fostering has its unique challenges, adding any child to the home will have its fair share of stresses.
- ...that while you may be used to peace and quiet, kids are noisy.
- ...you may be used to a clean home, but kids are usually messy.
- ...you will probably need more food.
- ...you will be doing more laundry.
- ...it'll probably take you longer to do things.
- ...you may be used to being the boss, but kids test boundaries and limits.
- ...it'll probably take more planning to do just about anything, or go anywhere.
While fostering a child brings with it many rewards, it's also important to understand the changes it will bring to help decide if this is the right time for you and your family to foster a child.