You never imagined it would happen to someone in your family or circle of friends. But it has. A child is placed in foster care. Perhaps the children’s parent is your teenage niece, who has had a baby she’s not ready to care for. Or your cousin who has been struggling with substance addiction. Maybe it is not a biological relative, but a friend’s sibling who has a mental illness. When you hear about it, your heart goes out to the children. You wonder if you can offer to care for them in your home. Is kinship foster care possible?
Kinship foster care is a situation when someone who is related to, or somehow personally involved with, a child, becomes approved as a foster parent specifically for that child. If you are thinking about becoming a kinship foster parent, here are some questions you can ask yourself.
Are you over 21? To become a foster parent to any child, you must meet this age requirement.
How is your physical and mental health? You don’t have to be a health nut, nor will having some mental health issues disqualify you. Indeed, you just need to be healthy enough to be able to care for a child. Becoming a kinship foster parent can be physically and emotionally challenging. Indeed, if you are dealing with serious health issues, you might not be up to the job right now.
Are you currently able to support yourself and your family? Kinship foster parents receive a stipend that is meant to be used for the child’s expenses. It is not meant to provide an additional income for the foster parents. You don’t have to be rich. You just need to be able to show that you will not be relying on the foster care stipend to support yourself or others in the home.
Do you have places for the children to sleep? You will need at least one spare bedroom. Children age five and under can share a room with children of either gender. Children older than five can share a room with similarly-aged children of the same gender. Every child will need their own bed, or a crib if they are an infant. Sometimes a foster care agency or outside agency will help kinship foster parents secure bed and bedding for children.
Can every adult in the household pass a background check? Some minor infractions are okay, but if you or another adult in your home has been convicted of a violent or sexual crime in the past, you won’t be approved as a kinship foster parent.
Are you willing to go through training? The foster care agency will provide free training classes to help prepare you to be a kinship foster parent. Further, courses are usually around 20 to 30 hours.
Learn More About Becoming a Kinship Foster Parent
Can you love and accept a child who you did not give birth to? A foster child should be treated as a full-fledged member of the household. They need to be given the same food, clothing, and privileges as other similarly-aged children in the home. Remember that many foster children have histories of trauma. Thus, they may come with behavioral issues or other special needs. They are not likely to be on their best behavior, or express their gratitude to you for taking them in. Therefore, kinship foster parents need to be ready to be a loving parental figure to a child, and be willing to work through any challenges
If you’ve read through all of these questions, and you feel like you are ready to become a kinship foster parent, then take the first step. Get in touch with the children’s case worker or foster care agency and express your interest in caring for them. People living in Oklahoma or Nebraska can start by contacting us for more information.