Exploring how to become a foster parent can be a little overwhelming. The good news is there is no need to feel that way. Many foster parent requirements must be met, like bedroom space, age, passing a background check, providing references, and more. Those are requirements set by the state of Wisconsin. At CCR, there are five critical factors to fostering success, and most people don't consider them. Relationships, support, stability, open-mindedness, and flexibility, Our list will provide detailed information to help you decide if fostering is right for you. It is an honest list of what you'll need to successfully foster kids and youth with trauma histories in treatment-level foster care.
To become a foster parent, ask yourself these questions.
It is our responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary characteristics to foster youth with significant trauma due to abuse and neglect. Ask yourself why you want to become a foster parent. What ages and types of children do you wish to foster? How much structure and stability can you provide? Who will support you on your foster parenting journey? Of course, Community Care Resources provides extensive foster parent training and support services, but you'll need to meet these Top 5 requirements to foster with us successfully.
Being a foster parent is hard work. You cannot do it alone!
#5 Healthy-stable relationships
- If married or in a committed relationship, it is best if you have been together for at least three years. Understanding your spouse or partner and having worked through the infancy of your marriage or partnership is something both CCR and the state of Wisconsin take seriously. You'll need to complete several long questionnaires about your relationships during the application process.
- Good communication with your spouse, partner, or extended family is crucial. It is challenging to be a foster parent when dealing with our stressors. The ability to tag team and depend on each other is critical when caring for children and youth with heightened trauma. Kids require a united front during challenges and frustrations in your home. It is important to remember that positive parenting stems from positive relationships.
- Single foster parents benefit greatly from healthy and stable relationships with extended family and close friends. Many emotions accompany fostering children with significant trauma. If you are in a new relationship or if you live a long distance from family and close friends, it may be a good idea to take some time to develop and build a network of stable relationships before you become a foster parent. We have many single foster parents at CCR, but each has a solid support system.
- Foster parents must be flexible in their thinking. Authoritarian parenting or militant discipline structures can often backfire and create stress when caring for youth in foster care. Foster parents must be able to stop a reaction and make quick, necessary adjustments in the heat of a moment. The ability to see where a child is coming from, accept behavior or opinion, and keep an open mind to every situation is essential in successful foster parenting.
- Be open to the moment and the world your foster child came from and accept kids where they are at. For example, a seven-year-old may have been using appropriate coping skills when he was four, but those coping skills need adjusting now. However, he is doing precisely what a seven-year-old should be doing under his set of circumstances and level of experienced trauma. Parents must use wisdom, compassion, and understanding rather than reacting with unrealistic expectations. Helping foster youth develop healthy coping skills requires foster parents to be patient and consistent.
#3 Flexible Schedule
- A flexible schedule is mandatory for all foster parents licensed with Community Care Resources. Being at home and available to kids when not in school is crucial to providing a stable, structured environment. In addition, foster parents can expect unplanned interruptions, schedule changes, medical appointments, therapy appointments, and biological family visits. Your availability to your foster children will play an essential role in a child's ability to heal and develop healthy relationships
- Single foster parents need flexibility with a work schedule and must have a backup person to count on during hours you are unavailable. Often, daycare, camps, and after-school programs are not the best options for foster kids with heightened trauma histories. Thus, foster parents working 8-5 jobs will find fostering kids at treatment level difficult. CCR requires a consistent schedule for kids in care so they can benefit from routine and familiar caregivers.
- Couples with alternating work schedules, work-at-home positions, small business owners, self-employed, and stay-at-home parents offer excellent flexibility—the ability to be available when needed is essential. In addition, no foster child of any age may be left home alone.
#2 Support System
Will your extended family and friends support your decision? Many stereotypes plague foster children, and many have strong feelings about the types of kids that come into care. Be realistic about your expectations of those close to you. Friends and family members may need help understanding your desire to foster.
Your greatest support system outside of your family will be your assigned Clinical Case Manager (CCM). Community Care Resources only employs experienced master's level case managers. They will visit your home every week while the kids are placed with you. During these support visits, you will learn from the experience of your CCM and how to best care for your foster child(ren). You will discuss problems, progress, setbacks, and accomplishments. Weekly support is vital for successful healing to happen.
Foster parents experience increased workloads and emotions that come with the difficulties of caring for children with heightened behaviors due to trauma. A backup system is critical. A friend, family member, or neighbor you can call on will be essential while on your fostering journey. In addition, there will be times when you are unavailable, sick, or delayed for an appointment or after-school pickup; you must have a backup support system.
#1 Ability to Adapt
- Being able to shift at the moment is an attribute that all successful foster parents have. Situations will arise when a quick adjustment or creative solution will help a child get through a challenging moment or crisis. Your ability to handle disruptions appropriately and problem-solve at the moment will be a great asset to your family. Behaviors can change quickly with children who have experienced trauma, and their inability to express themselves or cope with a specific situation will require adjustments.
- As mentioned above in Open Mindedness, rigid parenting styles are often a recipe for disaster when fostering. If a child is having a tantrum in a moving car, your only option may be to pull the car over and sit idle for a while, a long while. This disruption will most likely have a domino effect on schedules, arriving at your destination on time, and possibly the behaviors and attitudes of other children or adults in the vehicle. Your ability to adapt will become a valuable asset.
If you can adapt to various situations that will arise, have a dependable support system, are surrounded by positive relationships, have a flexible schedule and an open mind. It might be time to take the steps toward beginning the process of becoming a foster parent.
READY TO BEGIN? We are here to walk you through it.