So you’ve made the decision to foster, are ready to sign up to become a licensed foster parent, and are suddenly thinking, “What in the world am I doing?!” Emotions are high and questions are unknown, but rest assured that you’re not the first foster parent to experience those feelings.
The foster process can seem daunting, but with the right community around you, here’s how you can break it down into stages and successfully accomplish the plan!
1. Choose a Foster Care Agency
There are many different agencies that are equipped to license foster parents. You can become licensed through your county’s Department of Social Services or you can choose a private agency such as Baptist Children’s Homes of NC, Children’s Homes Society of NC, or Seven Homes. The Mercy Hill Adoption and Foster Care ministry can help connect you with others who have used different agencies to help you make the best choice for your family.
2. Attend Training
The agency you choose will provide training, either TIPS-MAPP or Deciding Together, that will help you evaluate if you are ready to become a foster parent. These trainings teach you about the child welfare system and equip you with the tools that you’ll need to welcome a child into your home.
3. Complete a Home Assessment and Foster Care Application
Your agency will complete a home assessment to make sure everything in your home is up to state standards for a foster home. The agency will then help you complete a foster care application and send it off to the state office to have it approved. The application and home assessment will be reviewed, and if there are no concerns, you will be approved!
4. A Child Is Placed!
Now the fun part—waiting for a child to be placed in your home! Your agency will call you when they know of a child that may be a good fit for your home. The children they call about will be coming from difficult backgrounds, which could include loss of a parent, abuse, neglect, drugs, among other things. You will pray, talk about it with your family and agency, and decide if you want to move forward.
5. Know Your Supports
Foster care is a huge ministry opportunity, and you’ll definitely need support! Mercy Hill has many ways to get that support. First, involve your Community Group! They are here to pray for you, help with needs that may come up, and provide support in other ways. Secondly, get involved with Mercy Hill’s Adoption and Foster Care Ministry. The ministry regularly hosts social events that allow you to get support from other foster and adoptive families and allow the kids in your home to interact as well. You can find out about these events through the Mercy Hill Webpage (click here) or the Mercy Hill Adoption and Foster Care Facebook page.
Foster care is an awesome way to minister to children from difficult backgrounds and ultimately point them to the hope we have in the gospel. It is not always easy, but it is worth it. Keep in mind that you are not alone, and the church is here to support you in many ways!
-Rae Francis (MH Member and Case Manager at a local foster care organization)