Sadly not every family is a happy family. Sometimes there is a death or serious illness in a family and the children are not able to be cared for properly. Sometimes there is abuse of the children. Sometimes the parents are in trouble with the law and are sent to jail.

Whatever the reason, many children find themselves in need of care and that is where a foster parent steps forward.

A foster parent or parents are people who care enough to want to help children who are in need. The child or children are placed in the foster parent’s home and lives there for varying periods depending on the situation with the biological parents.

Overall about half of the children who are placed in foster care eventually return to live with their real parents.

There is a difference between fostering a child and adopting a child. When a child is adopted, their adoptive parents also become their sole and legal guardian. The child is their responsibility and a part of their family. A foster parent undertakes the care of the child knowing they are not the legal guardian and that the child may be taken back to his or her parents at any time. A foster parent steps in when a crisis occurs and will care for the child for anything from days and weeks to months and years.

It is possible and not uncommon for a foster parent to eventually adopt a foster child. The authorities want families to stay together but only if they can operate with due care. A family which is struggling will be given support and the children allowed  to remain at home. But if the parents fail to protect and provide adequately for their child or children, the little ones will be placed in foster care.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, it is easy to discover the requirements. Obviously the state has a licensing procedure and all possible parents are cruelly vetted before approval.

You will need a reference from a doctor and be able to show that your income is sufficient to take on the responsibility of feeding and clothing another child. The usual police check and a medical clearance showing your family has no infectious diseases are also required. More foster parents are always required so if you have the desire to participate, you are encouraged to tackle the first step. It is a big responsibility but it also comes with great rewards.

You may think that you are too young or too old or will not have the experience to adequately care for someone you have never met. Don’t be put off. The authorities offer training courses and there is a strong support network for all foster parents and thus for the children they foster.

Contact your local health authority or go online looking for web sites which explain and assist with being a foster parent. You can become a foster parent and enjoy the privilege of helping children in need.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

Parenting Advice: Avoid these Most Common Parenting Mistakes

What are the Characteristics of Good Parenting?