Becoming a foster parent can take a lot of time and preparation. Many classes and tests are required by the government for someone to become a foster parent. To be accepted into the foster care program of your state, foster-parenting training classes as well as certifications are needed. Relatives of foster children can become their foster parents as long as they meet the state's criteria for becoming one.
Take an emotional inventory to determine where you are in your life. Ask yourself the following questions to decide if you are ready to become a foster parent. These questions concern issues that you are going to have to deal with if you decide to become a foster parent, whether the child is your niece or otherwise. Are you emotionally and physically capable of loving and caring for children? Can you care for and love a child from a difficult home or life background? Can you give a child a sense of belonging in your home even though she will not be there for very long? Can you love a child that cannot easily love you back because of fear of rejection? Can you set clear limits and be consistent and firm when disciplining a child? Can you accept guidance and assistance from social workers? Can you maintain a positive attitude toward the child's parents, even if the problems the child is having is due to them? How do you feel about dealing with lying, defiant behavior, minor destructiveness, or bed-wetting? How do you feel about having a social worker from a state agency give you house calls to inspect the condition of your home?
Become an advocate for your niece. Talk to and be willing to work with your niece's social worker. Most of the time, social workers will want to put the child with a member of the immediate family, so unless you have something that would be considered inappropriate in your history or records, it is highly likely that you will be selected to be her foster parent.
Research the requirements to become a foster parent in your state. To be eligible, you need to be 21 years of age or older. The foster child must have her own room and bed. Your home must meet safety standards, such as fire codes and sanitation codes. You have to make enough money to provide for your family. You cannot plan on foster-care reimbursement from the state to be your income, as it might not be very much depending on where you live.
Contact your state's foster care specialist to find out information about foster-parenting classes and all of the licenses that will have to apply for, such as first aid and CPR. Most states, like Washington, will require you to take a tuberculosis test as well.
Take available preplacement foster-care training for your state and pass the course. You will have to learn about and be prepared to handle many different issues before you officially become your niece's foster parent.
Online foster-parent training programs are available that you can take that may be provided by your state.
Can you pass a criminal background check? People with a history of drug, alcohol, or child abuse are not eligible for becoming a foster parent.