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Foster Care Basics

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The world of foster care is an exciting one. For one thing, it is an excellent resource for children who otherwise would not have any good options. For another, it is a way for families and married couples to make a real difference in the world by helping to raise a child. On top of that, there are many different kinds of arrangements for fostering, so the host family can make themselves available to whatever extent they wish.

Foster Care Basics
There are four primary categories for foster caring based on the duration of the foster arrangement. First of all, there is emergency care. This can be a little as one night up to a month-long stay. Next, there is short term care. Short term care is usually at least a month long, and can be as long as two years. The longest duration is the long term placement. These describe foster arrangements that are longer than two years long. The last category is a special case: respite care. Respite care doesn’t have a set time period. Instead, it defines an arrangement where the foster family cares for the child for one to two weekends per month.

The factors that lead to the necessity for foster care are complex. The most common cases are neglect or abuse. Since the government is hesitant to take children away from their biological family without a strong reason, sending a child to a foster family is often seen as a last resort. There are other reasons that might cause the local authorities to think that the child is not safe at home, such as excessive drug or alcohol use or dangerous mental instability in the home. These situations can be quite difficult for the child. There is often an immediate danger to the child just from living in that environment. On top of that, the long term emotional and mental pain from being separated from the original family and seeing the people they trusted hurt them can be just as problematic. For that reason, many foster children have difficulty with trust. After all, their recent experience has taught them that family members are dangerous and unreliable.
That is why foster families are so valuable. They can make a huge difference in the life of the foster child just by showing them kindness and setting a good example for healthy family life. Aside from the immediate gain of getting the child out of a dangerous situation, the foster family also raises the child and sets them on a better path. This makes an enormous amount of difference for the child, because it puts them in a far better environment during the most critical formative time. They need to see examples of what a family should and can be: loving, support, caring, and nurturing. A foster family can provide all of that in the way the foster child’s original family could not.

It is, of course, no an easy task to be a foster family, but many do it gladly. They view it as the opportunity it is: the chance to turn someone’s life around. Not everyone gets a chance like that. It does not matter what your family arrangement is. As long as you are over 18, can pass the right background checks, complete training and a health exam, and have enough space to host a child, you can be a foster family. That’s really all there is to it. There are many companies and nonprofits that make it easier for foster families to care for their children and understand how to be the best foster parents they can be, and there are all kinds of resources online. It has never been easier to be a foster parent, and the chance to save someone’s life is priceless.