Foster parents generally take on the role of surrogate parents for minor children when the original family cannot meet their needs. They must maintain licensing and compliance with child welfare agencies' rules and regulations. Social service organizations place children with foster parents after the parents have been thoroughly vetted. While the government regulates foster care, it is usually run by individual counties and private enterprises. The types of foster care vary according to the needs of the children and include traditional foster parents in their home, respite care families and group homes.
The primary purpose of the foster parent is to provide a safe haven for children on a temporary basis and assist the social services department with a plan to re-introduce them to their families, if it is possible. The entire family is involved in the decision to foster a child because it affects every member. Foster parents must facilitate the child’s inclusion into their family, and -- if mandated by child welfare -- they must provide access to the child for the birth family. In cases of emergency care, they are on-call 24 hours a day as a stop-gap while social workers make alternative arrangements for the child.
Reimbursement rates for foster parents fluctuate widely across the country. In most states, the basic rate is usually less than what it actually costs to care for a child; it varies in accordance with the age of the child, generally increasing as he matures. According to the 2012 national survey on Family Foster Care Provider Classifications and Rates, 14 percent to more than 90 percent of states receive the basic daily rate; however, they are supplemented by additional allowances to take care of incidentals, such as books, diapers, clothing and special occasions
Child advocacy is the most important role of the foster care system. Your support of the system and the comprehensive programs that service the children -- medical, counseling, education and therapeutic sessions -- show that you have an interest in the welfare of the child. Providing a loving, stable home environment helps him transition from his biological family to yours. Transporting children to and from needed services, immersing them in your family and filling their emotional needs help the child along the path to a permanent solution.
Individuals who act as foster parents should have the ability and the willingness to take care of children placed in their charge. It is not necessary to own a home or to have experience being a parent. Neither is it required that you earn a certain income; however, you must have the capability to meet the needs of your own family. Before licensure, caregivers must complete an orientation and training program as well as provide references attesting to their fitness to be foster parents. Social service agencies check their homes for safety and screen them for criminal history and stability.