Becoming a foster parent is one of the most impactful actions that can be taken to help a foster child. There are over 400,000 youth in foster care nationwide on any given day from days old to teens. Unfortunately, there is also a significant shortage of foster parents, which often causes siblings to be separated, creates additional trauma and education delays with multiple home moves and makes an already scary time even more traumatic. Asthe number of children in care hasincreasedthe need for safe alternatives has grown,resulting in children sleepingin welfare offices, hotels, group homes, shuffling from temporary placement to temporary placement until a foster family is identified.

More foster homes are needed to provide loving, safe, and stable environments for these kids. But where to start? Below is a quick guide to get you started and informed.

Requirements to be a Foster Parent

Licensing requirements vary state to state but there are some universal requirements:

Different Types of Foster Care

Did you know there are different types of foster care that have different time commitment? Find what suits your home best.

Emergency Care: Emergency foster parents provide short-notice, temporary care. This is often a short-term solution until a sibling group can be place together in a home, or a child has been taken from their home in the middle of the night and needs a safe place until a stable family member or more permanent solution can be identified. These parents often provide the first bit of comfort to youth entering care and can help a youth enter foster care with the knowledge that they will be cared for.

Respite Care: In order to give full-time foster parents a break, caregivers can sign up to provide respite care. This can range from evening care to allow for date nights, regular care basis such as one weekend a month, or can be for shorter one-or two-week periods. Emergency and respite care is a perfect way to determine whether long-term foster parenting is right for you and your family and helps foster parents stay in foster care.

Standard Foster Care: Caregivers who sign up to provide standard foster care provide long-term or short-term care, depending on the need, for children until they are able to find permanency. This is also known as Traditional Foster Care. From one child to multiple children youare able to set the age range and number of children you feel is the best fit for you.

Kinship Care: When a child is taken from their home, efforts are made to reunite the child with a safe and stable family member. Child welfare will determine if any family members are willing or able to care for the child and the caregiver must then go through the licensing process. This is also referred to as Relative Care.

Intensive Treatment Foster Care: Many children who entire foster care have experienced severe abuse and neglect. Some also have significant medical conditions or developmental disabilities. These children require specialized care from trained caregivers in order to develop and heal. Those who are interested in Intensive Treatment Foster Care are provided highly specialized and on-going training to learn how to best care for these children.

Foster-to-Adopt: There are over 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. In a foster-to-adopt placement, the foster parent agrees to adopt the child once the biological parent’s parental rights have been terminated by the court. Learn more about adoption here.