By Jordan Upton
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a foster parent? We at AGAPE would love for you to be involved! Before getting started, here are some general requirements and frequently asked questions that may help you make the amazing leap into the world of fostering.
You must be at least 21 years old. There is no top age limit.
You must be in good health.
If married, you must have been married for at least two years.
Both parents are allowed to work outside the home.
You can be a single parent.
You must be a Christian.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Who are the children in need of foster care?
Children placed in foster care are those that are temporarily removed from their birth family. This is sometimes due to the child being in an unsafe environment where they have faced abuse or neglect. Or, the child could have been surrendered to an adoption agency and, while waiting for the legal process to be completed, need a temporary home with a foster family. Children’s ages can range from a few days old up to eighteen years old. Sometimes it is a single child in need of a home and sometimes it is an entire family. Occasionally some children face serious medical concerns or physical maladies. Most foster children have experienced great emotional or physical trauma, which makes the need for them to be placed in a loving, caring, understanding home even greater.
2. How long are these children in foster care?
While every situation is unique, the average time spent in foster care through AGAPE of N.C. is eight months. Some children will spend a few days with a foster family and others will spend a few years. Both during the licensure procedure and when a specific child is being presented to a foster family, the potential length of stay will be fully discussed, and the foster family will participate very directly in making the decision of what is right for them. Foster care is by definition temporary, but the length varies with every child and his/her circumstances.
3. What happens if I become too attached to my foster child that I do not want to let them go?
Bonding and becoming attached is a natural and necessary part of fostering. Without these things the child would feel unwanted and unloved. Foster families feel as if they are sending a piece of their heart with their foster child when they leave. This is an important part of the process and your caseworker is sensitive to this. AGAPE will help you prepare for this sense of loss and how to adjust after your foster child has left. AGAPE believes that God has given foster parents an even bigger heart so they are able to give so much of their love away to these children in need. If you feel as if you would be too easily attached to a foster child and would experience a tremendous loss when your foster child is placed in a permanent home, AGAPE feels as if you would be the best candidate to participate in this loving service.
4. What is involved in the licensure process?
AGAPE uses state regulations and agency policies to ensure prospective families are a right fit for becoming foster parents. Foster families submit an application and will be put in touch with a caseworker. This caseworker will begin the evaluation process and preparation period, usually lasting three months. Additionally, the caseworker will spend many hours interviewing the family in the AGAPE offices as well as in the potential family home. Home inspections and background checks are given. In the end, the caseworker will assign a specific number of foster children to the home (one to five), a specific age range (from birth to 18 years old), specific gender when applicable, and the family will be informed of any special needs or circumstances for the children if the family feels they are equipped to handle such situations.
5. What if I have never fostered before? How will I know what to do?
During the licensure process families will undergo a minimum of 30 hours of training for the specific type, situation, and age of children in which the family is placed. While fostering, the families also receive more training. Most importantly, the family is never on their own. Their caseworker is always available and will visit on a regular basis. Additionally, the AGAPE staff is on call and available 24 hours a day, ready and willing to help with any question or concern that arises.
6. Is this a paid or volunteer position?
This is strictly a volunteer-based process. The agency does provide a set reimbursement per month per child to cover expenses directly associated with the child. This money is not treated as income by the IRS and does not need to be reported since it is
reimbursement of actual expenses. Foster families report that this is an adequate amount to meet basic needs. With older children there is often a clothing allowance once or twice a year. The foster home is not responsible for medical expenses related to the child.
7. How can I get started?
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or have additional questions please contact AGAPE at 919-673-7816 for a no obligation information meeting. This meeting will serve to help you “count the cost” of such service, and to decide if this is right for your family. At that time an application will be made available to you. Please visit AGAPE’s website at www.agapeofnc.org for more information and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with news and relevant information.