The month of May is National Foster Care Month and United Methodist Family Services is a leading nonprofit agency that strives to serve children and families through their foster care services.
This month is a time to recognize that everyone can play an important role in the foster care process and anyone has the opportunity to become a foster parent. There are many misconceptions about foster care and what it takes to be a foster parent.
Myth: You need to be married in order to be a foster parent
This is one of the most common myths that Katherine Solvig, Foster Parent Recruiter at UMFS hears often. “You can be single, you can be cohabitating, you can be married. It can be anything. We don’t discriminate against any couples. What we’re looking for is people who are in a place of maturity and stability, because that’s what the kids need.”
Myth: You need to be a homeowner
Many people who are interested in becoming a foster parent approach Solvig worried that because they are not a homeowner, they do not qualify to foster children. Solvig says that is definitely not the case. Potential foster parents can be renting a home, or residing in an apartment and still be able to help these children in foster care.
Solvig says, “The only requirement is that the child must be able to have their own room. We don’t like for our kids to share rooms unless the other person is a biological sibling that is within two years of their age. It’s important for these kids to have their own space.”
Myth: Children come into foster care because they have done something wrong
Some people looking into foster care have the misconception that because a child is in foster care that means they have broken the law or done something bad in some way. This is 100% wrong. Children enter foster care for a multitude of reasons. Solvig says, “They can come into foster care because maybe they have experienced abuse, they can come from neglectful situations and need help just to function.”
Some children also come into care because their parents are not able to care for them, whether that be because of a passing, incarceration, or drug problems. Children come into foster care for many reasons, but never because of anything that they have done.
Myth: Once entering foster care, children do not leave
An unknown fact about foster care is that 50% of all children who enter foster care are returned back to their primary caregivers. “Foster care is not the end goal, the end goal is to reach permanency. A lot of times the hope is to reunite the family and create a stronger family,” Solvig says. Ultimately it is a judge's final decision to decide whether or not that child will be reunited with their family after spending some time in foster care.
In the Lynchburg area alone there are 170 children in foster care and around 45 foster families. UMFS hosts information sessions and provides many resources to those individuals or families who are interested in becoming foster parents.
Children need maturity, stability and love, and UMFS is one of the places where children and families have been able to go to receive support during the process. Visit the UMFS profile on SHARE Greater Lynchburg to learn more about how to get involved.