5 Common Myths About Being a Foster Parent
Last updated: March 2, 2022, at 11:14 a.m. PT
Originally published: February 22, 2022, at 9:08 a.m. PT
At the YMCA of Greater Seattle we get a lot of questions from people inquiring about becoming foster parents: questions about who can be a foster parent, what foster parents can expect from fostering, and curiosity about what the experience is like for youth and parents.
To understand foster care, it helps to break it down by first looking at some common assumptions and examining them more closely.
1. To be a foster parent, do I have to be married?
This is a very common question and the answer is no, you do not need to be married. A foster parent can be married, single, divorced, widowed, or living in a partnership, any relationship status is welcome. All a person has to do is fill out the proper forms during the licensing process, and anyone who lives in the home will need to pass a background check.
2. Do foster parents have to be stay-at-home parents?
No, foster parents can work full-time, part-time, or be stay-at-home parents. What matters most is that foster parents meet the needs of the youth in their care and provide a safe home. Many foster parents who work often utilize child care and after-school options near their home, the Y even has many such programs to support foster families.
3. Is it easy to adopt through foster care?
This is often a misperception of the goals of fostering youth. The ideal goal for youth in foster care is for them to be reunified with their families, not lead to adoption. Statistically, when reunification is possible for youth and their families it leads to the best outcomes for kids. However, reunification is not always possible and there are times when fostering can lead to adoption, but it is not a guarantee or expectation.
4. Do foster parents usually care for babies?
The biggest need in foster care is for fostering teens, due to the majority of foster families being interested most in caring for babies and young children. One of the best ways to help as a foster parent is to consider fostering teens because there are often not enough homes for older kids and teens. Some foster parents prefer fostering teens because they have a different set of needs than infants and young kids that may fit their experience and lifestyle better.
5. To be a foster parent, do you need to be a parent already?
This is another common question, but like the married question, it’s based on a major misconception. You do not need to be a parent already to be a foster parent. Everyone has something to give, and all children are unique in their own way. Youth need to be parented in their own way and anyone can help make a difference by stepping in and providing comfort, care and attention.
These are just a few of the major questions we get at the Y of Greater Seattle. When deciding to be a foster parent, there are certainly many things to consider. Contact us or visit us online to learn more and be sure to have discussions with your friends and family to decide what is right for you. If you hear something you aren’t sure about, ask a foster parent or do some more research. If you find that you’re ready to be a foster parent, the Y is here to help support you as a foster parent. Youth in foster care have a wide range of experiences and needs, and we need foster parents with lots of different types of experiences and goals to support them.