The U.S. foster care system is complex and can be confusing to understand. Here are five things you need to know about foster care plus ways you can get involved:
1. More than 400,000 U.S. children are in foster care.
Through no fault of their own, these children have been removed from their homes by the courts due to abuse, neglect or other family challenges. They need the care and love that foster families can provide. Last year, more than 6,300 children were cared for by KVC foster families in Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and West Virginia.
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2. The first goal of foster care is reunification.
Foster care is a safe place that gives a child and his or her birth family an opportunity to resolve conflicts or disruptions and learn healthy skills so the child can safely return home. KVC helps families reunite or stay together by using services that are focused on stabilizing the family, helping children return or remain safely in their homes, and improving the long-term wellbeing of both children and families. More than half of children who enter foster care are reunited with their birth families.
If reintegration with the child’s birth family is not possible, the goal becomes adoption, custodianship or, for older youth, independent living. It is not uncommon for children to be adopted by their foster parents because they have bonded.
3. Foster care is temporary.
At KVC, it is our goal to help children achieve a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible through reintegration or adoption. Children who are being safely reintegrated with their birth families spend an average of one year or less in foster care. During this time, foster parents play an important role in helping children maintain relationships with their families so they can safely reunite. If a child cannot be safely reunited with his/her birth family, the goal will become matching that child with a loving forever family.
4. More foster parents are needed.
The availability of more foster homes makes it more likely that children who enter foster care can remain in their schools and communities and with their siblings, minimizing disruption to their lives during a difficult time. Whether you own or rent your home, have children already or don’t, work full-time or stay home, you may be eligible to be a foster parent. Foster parents DO have to complete free training classes, be at least 21 years of age, pass background checks and be able to provide a stable and loving home for children who have experienced abuse, neglect or other family challenges.
5. Fostering isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Fostering a child has all of the challenges and rewards that come with parenting your own child… and more! It does take patience, perseverance and passion (not perfection) to be a great foster parent. KVC provides exceptional training and resources to foster families, and staff are on call 24/7 to offer support, advice and crisis intervention.
If you would like to make a difference in a child’s life and you have some extra space in your home, consider becoming a foster parent! Learn more about foster care or become a foster parent in Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky and West Virginia.
- Common Myths About Foster Care and Adoption
- Short Film Follows Emotional Journey of Young Girl in Foster Care
- “Children of the System” Documentary Examines Foster Care in America
- Chrissy’s Story – Child Abuse Survivor Now Helps Other Children Heal and Find Loving Homes
- 5 Ways You Can Help a Child in Foster Care Without Being a Foster Parent