April 23, 2010

Why Foster?


Good Info to Have:

Boundaries and Limits.


I’ve gotten questions about how specific you can be in defining what children you are able to take into your home when you foster. Most people I’ve talked to are relieved and/or surprised to hear the answer.

It sounds awful.  What children will you take?  Which children will you have to say no to?  But realistically, you have to know your limits, and know your family.  It’s important to consider the ages and sex of your bio kids.  It’s important to consider what behaviors you think you can handle.  This is for your own good and safety, as well as for the children who will come to your home.  It isn’t good for anyone involved to get in over your head, and for the child to have to move (again) from your home.  (Although this can still happen.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say yes to.  Sometimes behaviors pop up after the kids are placed that aren’t safe for your family.  Disruptions are hard, but are occasionally necessary.)


So, how specific can you be?

I could call my worker right now and tell her that we can only take white, female, 6 year olds.  That’s how specific.  Now if I did that, I probably wouldn’t get many calls for placement, but if that’s how it needs to be, then that is fine.

Also, while you are licensing you should be asked to go through a list of behaviors that you can or cannot accept.  This is helpful in giving you an idea of what you may see.  I will say, that the behaviors that they list are exactly what they describe.  I struggle with being pretty idealistic with what I can handle – but some of the behaviors are not things I would know how to help. 

It’s also important to note that at any time I could call my worker and have our profile turned off (so that we wouldn’t get any calls), or I could change our selected age group or other identifiers.  Also, you can distinguish between whether you would like to do only short term placements, emergency placements, long term placements, or any mix of the three.  Fostering is designed to be very flexible in this way for the foster parent.


Brian and I take kids 12 and under.  We decided that we would hold off on taking teenagers until we stop looking like teenagers ourselves.  We also cannot take children who have severe problems with physical aggression because we have Sylvia, and we have to be safe.  We are licensed for up to four kids.  We try to stay really open minded about placements, knowing that only God can know what we can really handle, and that He is involved in every step of the way.


I think what is most important is knowing your own family.  What would be safe?  What wouldn’t?  Are there any behaviors that you know you would not feel comfortable with?  And of course, you can always discuss these things with your worker to get an outside perspective as well. 


Hope this helps!  Let me know if you have questions, I’ll try to answer, or point you in the right direction toward someone who can! 


  1. Thanks for posting this! It's very helpful to hear things from someone who is living the life and has hands on experience! I value your wisdom!

  2. We're going through the certification process. The perimeters we've decided on are 0-5 yrs, no sexual abuse history, and not aggressive towards animals. We have reasons for all of these specifics, mostly to keep it safe for our children.

    I can see how being realistic about what foster families can handle prevents children from being bounced around, as happened so much in the 70s and 80s when foster workers kept foster children's issues under wraps. The relative transparency that exists now is for the best.

  3. Wow, you're licensed 0-12 for four kids, and you only have Zee and Jae right now? I find that crazy.

    Good job explaining 'how it works'. So many people want to know, and you're helping so much!

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Thanks for commenting!!


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