Pros and Cons of Foster Homes for Children

By Autumn St. John
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A foster home is usually a private household where one or more children who cannot be cared for by their biological parents are placed. They become the legal ward of the nominated adult caregivers, or foster parents, within the home. There are various pros and cons to foster care for both the adult and the minor.

Community

One benefit of a foster home is that it can forge a sense of community. By helping and interacting with foster children, the foster parents are building up and contributing to a mini community within their household. The foster children may enjoy feeling part of a mini community, especially if they have led isolated lives beforehand.

However, if the foster parents are not accustomed or suited to having people in their house on a long-term basis, they may see the need to forge a sense of community as a burden. Similarly, if the foster child is not used to, or does not enjoy, being part of a family unit, they may be unhappy in a foster home. Over time, of course, both parent and child may learn to adapt to their new circumstances.

Money

Foster parents are monetarily compensated for providing foster care, which could be seen as an extra incentive for going into fostering. From the foster child's perspective, he may have been living in poverty before being put into foster care. By living in a foster home, he can receive the sustenance, clothing, lifestyle and education opportunities he may otherwise not have gotten.

However, money is not enough of an advantage by itself to make a foster home a success. You should not become a foster parent just for the money, because if your heart is not truly in it or you don't have the requisite skills, no amount of money can compensate for that. As for the child, he is not necessarily going to be happy in a foster home just because he is more well-off than he previously was.

Temporary Nature

The typical temporary nature of being a foster parent can be seen as both a pro and a con. On the pro side, a foster parent can help many children by fostering each of them for a limited amount of time. When one child leaves the foster home, her place can be taken by another child who needs the parent's care.

However, bonding with children and then having to say goodbye to them on such a regular basis can be emotionally difficult for the foster parent. For the child, being moved from foster home to foster home is potentially more disruptive than being permanently adopted by one family.

Support

The degree of external support that both the foster parent and foster children receive can be a factor in determining the success of a particular foster home. If, for instance, the foster parent has access to high quality training and the foster children have counselors or social workers to give regular feedback to, this can benefit the foster home. However, if the foster home is lacking in access to helpful resources, what is already a challenging experience can be made even more difficult.

About the Author

Based in London, Autumn St. John has been writing career- and business-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Guardian" and "Changing Careers" magazine. St. John holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European literature and culture from University College London, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in modern history from the University of Oxford.