Breaking Down the Myths About What It Takes to Become a Foster Parent

Breaking Down the Myths About What It Takes to Become a Foster Parent

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By Annette Gross, Program Director of Placement Services, Wesley Family Services

You might be temporary in their lives. They might be temporary in yours. But there is nothing temporary about the love or lesson.

-Tonia Christle

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness about becoming a foster parent. The truth is every day is National Foster Care Month for me. As the Program Director of Placement Services at Wesley Family Services, I have the privilege of working directly with our foster care parents and supporting them on their journey.

In 2021, we helped place 105 local children and teenagers into foster care, working directly with them and their foster parents. On average, that is more than three children and teenagers every week that needed to be placed into foster care. The need for individuals in our region to become foster care parents has never been greater.

Every child and teen placed in foster care is there at no fault of their own, and each situation is uniquely different. Some have parents that have passed away or are physically ill and there is no one in their family that can take care of them. Others have parents that are struggling with a substance abuse disorder or a mental health diagnosis.

After working in this field for nearly 30 years, I have found that so many adults regardless of their background or current stage in life—have at one time or another wondered what it would be like to become a foster parent. But, because of the misconceptions surrounding foster care, they never researched the process or reached out to an organization like ours to inquire about what it is like. While there are certain requirements that individuals must meet to become a foster parent, it is not an overly burdensome process, and our team is there every step of the way.

Here are the facts:

  • Individuals must be at least 21 years of age;
  • Individuals can be single, married, or cohabitating;
  • Individuals can have children or not have had children;
  • Individuals must have a steady source of income; and
  • Individuals must pass an on-site safety check.

Our organization also makes it a priority to work with foster parents that are diverse in their household composition, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and geographic location.

I have seen thousands of children’s lives transformed for the better because a compassionate foster parent stepped in at a point in time when they needed that support.

If you are interested in learning more about what it is like to become a foster parent, please contact me at Annette.Gross@wfpsa.org or 412-342-2300.


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