Your door opens. A child who has suffered abuse and neglect stands before you with eyes that tell of fear, anger, pain, and sometimes emptiness. The child steps into your home needing more than you can imagine, but also needing what you can give.
You are a foster parent, and you wear many hats - parent, teacher, nurse, advisor, referee, and confidante. You do not know how long the child will stay, but it doesn't matter. You will feed, clothe, shelter, teach, love, and nurture this child who you do not know. But before long, you will know the child and his or her dreams as if they were your own.
You support the child's return to the birth parents and work with the department for this to happen. As a foster parent, you make your heart a child's home, and the child leaves your home with eyes full of hope.
Why Children are Placed in Foster Care
Each year, thousands of children in New York need foster care placement. These children come to the foster care system because their parents are temporarily unable to give them the protection, guidance, and the help they need.
Children are placed in foster care for a variety of reasons. Some are victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and/or neglect. Their parents may be overwhelmed by their own problems and unable to address the needs of their children.
Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do. Being a foster parent is like a challenge, but it is also rewarding. Like all children, foster children need help as they grow so that they can succeed in the world. Foster children need the stability that a good home can provide while they and their parents resolve their problems.
As a foster parent, you will work with the child's birth parents. This is an important part of the foster parents' role.
Foster Care Team
Foster parents are part of a team that works with every child in care. This team is made up of social service workers, school officials, other service providers, and the child's birth parents. This team will work with you, the child, and the birth parents to resolve the difficulties that led to the foster care placement.
In the event a child cannot return home, foster parents often become a permanent resource for a child.
If you wish to foster a child, you may or may not have children of your own, you may own or rent your home, and you may be from any cultural background, as the needs for foster families are diverse. No matter what your marital status, be it married, single, divorced or widowed, you are invited to learn more about fostering and adopting through the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. Basic qualifications are:
- Love children
- Be at least 21 years old
- Maintain financial self-sufficiency
- Attend training and preparation sessions
- Are in good health
- Can work as part of a team with the Division of Family and Children's Services, other community service providers, and the child's birth parents
- Are willing to work to reunite a family and make a difference in the life of a child
- Are willing to make a commitment to the child in your care
- Consent to criminal and child abuse background checks.
- Participate in a home study
- Vaccinate all pets annually
- Have adequate sleeping space
- Obtain a required number of training hours each year