Myths about Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster are entertaining, and even somewhat comical. Overall, these fantastical myths are harmless, but foster care myths are damaging. If foster care myths are believed, they have life consequences for children in the foster care system as people choose not to provide care. Here are 5 common myths about foster care and the real truth you should know.
Myth: It’s expensive.
Truth: This totally depends on you and your view of what’s “expensive”.
Financial support varies by state, but you will receive monthly financial assistance. This money is tax-free and intended to reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses. State medical care is also provided. Other needs such as clothes, toys, school supplies, sports equipment, etc., are often donated to foster homes by local organizations. A simple search on Facebook or online will most likely reveal at least one, if not more, foster care ‘closets’ or local charities that give those types of items away for free to foster families. In fact, if you post a need on social media, you will most likely receive too much stuff for the child in your home!
Myth: You have no choice what child will be placed in your home.
Truth: You create a profile to determine your placement.
Although you won’t be choosing a specific child by name to be placed in your home, you will have the opportunity to create a profile. This profile allows you to set the maximum number of children you are willing to foster at a time, as well set some preferences for age, sex, and level of medical/physical needs your family can handle based on circumstances and experience. Just remember, the child will most likely have 0% input on the family they are placed with and is probably more nervous about you than you are about them.
Myth: If you say no to the placement you will be put on the bottom of the waiting list.
Truth: There is no waiting list for foster families.
There is probably not a single county or state in the United States where there is a waiting list of foster families. As children enter the foster care system, child welfare agencies need foster families who will say ‘yes’ to THEM. Foster care systems honor and respect a family’s right to say no. They would rather a family say no to a placement that may not be a good fit than have a child be placed and have to move again to another foster home.
Myth: The need is only for families willing to care for older children.
Truth: Every family willing to foster is needed.
Make no mistake; the BIGGEST need is for families willing to care for teens and sibling groups. But the need for families willing to care for any age child is universal, as we are experiencing a foster care crisis. Whether you can foster a baby or a teen, you ARE needed.
Myth: One person can’t really make that big of a difference.
Truth: If you foster, you make a big difference for that child.
On any given day, there are nearly 443,000 children in foster care in the United States or over 4,700 children in South Carolina alone. Can one foster parent, one foster family, really make a difference? It may not seem like it when you compare one family to 443,000 or even 4,700. But it only takes one family for the one child waiting in the office tonight for a family to accept them. One person, one family, YOU, can make a difference.
Don’t believe the myths surrounding foster care. Connect with a local expert in your area and learn the truth about fostering.