When you get that phone call that a precious child or baby needs a foster home, your first instinct is probably, “YES, I’ll do it!” However, that isn’t always the best answer. There are several things that should be considered before saying yes. You learned about this at PRIDE training, but we all know that most of those lessons were probably soon forgotten.
It is important for every child to have a home, but when a child is placed in a home we want that placement to be the only placement they have until they’re reunited with their parents or parental rights are terminated. When children are placed in a home, it can be more harmful than helpful if they’re moved frequently.
Things to consider:
The number of children you already have
Just because you’re open for a certain number of children, does not mean you have to take that number of children. If you’re feeling slightly overwhelmed with three children and they call you to take a fourth, don’t feel bad for telling them no. Your ability to take care of children without losing your mind is important.
Do you feel like you’re running around constantly with the children you have? If so, it may not be a good idea to take on any more responsibility.
The age and temperment of the children you have
If you already have a girl in the 4th grade, is it going to add too much stress or be easier to take on another girl in the 4th grade? She may love having a live in friend or she may feel competition. If you have a toddler that is overly rambunctious, you may need to think twice about taking on an infant or another toddler.
Your current foster children’s past and the past of the new foster child
If you have a girl that was sexually abused, it may not be a good idea to foster boys around her age or older. If the child in question was abused and has acted out sexually in the past, it may be in his or her best interest to be placed in house without younger children.
The unique needs of the child
Children in care will have different physical and emotional needs that will have to be met. Some children have medical issues that have to be managed. If you have a fair amount of medical knowledge then a child with medical issues may be a good fit for that child. If you’re not comfortable with certain medical issues or you don’t have the ability to go to the doctor more frequently than normal, you may want to consider saying no. If the child in question speaks another language or has some sort of disability, you need to factor that in when you’re considering your answer.
Other things to consider
Other things that are important to consider before taking a placement: Emotional health, developmental issues, education, placement history, cultural issues, legal status, and parental/sibling situation.
Remember your PRIDE manual? If you still have it, dust it off and pull it out. On page 289 there’s a list of things to consider when taking a placement that includes everything mentioned above. Keep this list by your bed, on your phone, or write questions of your own to keep on hand for when the case worker calls. The case worker may not have all the answers you’re wanting, but it’s worth it to ask.
Also remember that it’s important to talk to your spouse about a placement and possibly the other children in your house before taking a placement.