Five Misconceptions About Foster Care
If you’re not familiar with how foster care works or what is required, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard or believed some things that simply aren’t true. In honor of the selfless families who give of their time, resources and hearts to provide care for children in need, I’d like to address five common misconceptions about foster care.
1. Foster parents do it for the money.
We always hear the stories about a rotten apple or two who ruin it for the bunch, but unless foster parents are being grossly negligent, this one is just plain laughable. Yes, foster families get paid, but they are paid in order to cover the costs of caring for the child.
In Oklahoma, a foster family’s daily reimbursement begins at $13.45 and varies depending on the age and needs of the child. That money covers food, clothing, and supplies, including diapers, wipes, toys, and all the other things that go along with having a child in your home. Most foster children do not show up at someone’s house with a moving truck. Oftentimes the clothes on their back; are the only possessions they have. Anyone who has a child of his or her own knows how expensive it is. More often than not, a foster family will spend much more than the state pays in order to provide for the child in their care.
2. It costs a lot of money to adopt a foster child.
If you’re hoping to adopt, but you don’t have the financial ability to do it privately, foster care is an excellent avenue to pursue. Of course, you must prepare for the very real possibility that a child you foster will not stay with you, but if adoption does become an option, foster families are usually the first ones to be considered. Once you make that choice, it costs very little. Oklahoma does not charge a fee for adoptions that take place from foster care. The only expense the foster family is responsible for is the cost incurred from required medical exams.
3. The process is strenuous and invasive.
As one foster parent put it, “DHS isn’t trying to find fault with you, your house, or your parenting. They need you more than you need them, and they don’t want to drive foster parents away.” The training and home study are a free and fairly easy process, and in normal situations, a social worker won’t be at your door every five seconds to check up on you.
4. Foster parents have no say in what child or children they foster.
If you’ve considered doing foster care, but have worried that every time the phone rings you’ll have to say “yes,” rest assured that isn’t the case. If the timing isn’t right, you can always decline without hurting your chances of getting a placement later.
You can also tell DHS your preferences in terms of the age of the children you foster. This isn’t being picky; often your work situation as well as the makeup of your family (ages and genders of biological or adopted children) needs to be considered when bringing another child into your home.
5. “I could never do foster care. I’d love them too much to give them up.”
I’m guilty of having said those words, and I bet many of you are too. Certainly there are families who are unable or unwilling to make that commitment for any number of reasons, and it’s not a decision to make lightly. However, after watching my friends do foster care, I have come to realize that it is not as scary or un-doable as I imagined it to be.
Yes, it is difficult when the time comes for a child to leave a foster family’s care. Foster families don’t have a special switch they can flip on and off to stop them from feeling. Watching my friends who do foster care, I can tell you with absolute certainty that they love these children as their own and it breaks their hearts when a child in their care has to leave. Here’s the thing though: They don’t do it for themselves. They do it for the children who need them. Foster care requires a selfless love that could very well break your heart, but when you think of what you’re providing for that child, it is more than worth it.
If you’ve ever considered doing foster care, I strongly encourage you to take the next step in the process. There is a huge need for foster families, and you might be exactly who a child needs. Contact Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services for more information.
Are you considering becoming a foster parent? Here are some resources to help make your decision.
There are nearly 11,000 children in Oklahoma’s foster care system and foster families are greatly needed. To learn more about fostering, you can visit one of the websites below or call the Foster Parent Hotline at 800.376.9729. For more information on foster care, contact the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) at 866.612.2565 or visit okdhs.org/foster. The following agencies also have information on fostering a child.
TFI Family Connections
TFI Family Connections is a private not-for-profit organization that provides services and care for children and families. It holds Foster Care Recruitment Contracts with Oklahoma DHS, and helps support families throughout the foster care approval process, during placement and care of children in their homes, and helps provide an understanding of the child welfare system.
Visit www.tfifamilyconnections.org or call 866.543.9810 for more information.
Staff is available throughout Oklahoma, including Ada, Enid, Lawton, Norman, Oklahoma City, Seminole, Stillwater, Tulsa, and Yukon.
Saint Francis Community Services
Saint Francis Community Services, Inc. (SFCS) is a community-based service provider embracing the Episcopal tradition of service. Child and family-based services include foster care and adoption. www.st-francis.org; 918.488.0163 or 877.263.1890
Choices for Life
Choices for Life Foster Care program is specialized in-home treatment for children and youth with multiple psychological, social, and emotional needs who can accept and respond to relationships within a family but whose special needs require more intensive care. www.cflfostercare.com; 918.248.4340
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are specially trained volunteers who speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the court system. www.tulsacasa.org; 918.584.2272
Cherokee Nation Children, Youth and Family Services
Cherokee Nation welcomes a variety of Indian families from all over the United States who are willing to be a resource for our Cherokee children and other Indian children. Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare actively recruits families of ALL degrees of Indian blood from ALL federally recognized tribes. www.cherokee.org
SAFY – Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth
A Provider of therapeutic foster care services in Oklahoma. www.safy.org; 800.600.7239
Friends of Foster Families Inc
Advocates for the support, training and advocacy for foster and adoptive families. www.friendsoffosterfams.org; 918.609.4442