Reasons To Become a Foster Parent
Becoming a foster parent is the ultimate act of kindness for a child in need. However, it isn’t just a matter of altruism. Fostering a child can be a truly rewarding and life-enriching experience for both you as a foster parent and the rest of your family.
Children in foster care are often separated from their friends, families, and communities due to insufficient resources. By becoming a foster parent, you can provide a child with stability and the opportunity to continue with the same school, activities, friends, and community.
Utah is in need of more foster parents. There are around 2,700 children in foster care in the state. However, there are only around 1,400 foster families. This gap means that some children never experience a strong and stable family setting. A lack of stability during foster care is linked with an increased chance of issues such as unemployment, early pregnancy, incarceration, and homelessness.
Children in the foster system of Utah come from increasingly diverse cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds and speak varied languages. With a larger and more diverse selection of foster families available, those children could be paired with parents who can support their unique cultural needs.
Perhaps the greatest benefit when you become a foster parent in Utah is knowing that you are providing a stable home for a child that truly needs it. These are some of the rewards you may experience:
- The opportunity to serve as a role model for a young person.
- A chance to make a child feel valued and loved, helping to boost his or her self-esteem and confidence.
- Learning new skills for parenting and communication.
- Getting to make a genuinely transformative positive impact in a child’s life.
About Our Program
If learning how to become a foster parent in Utah sounds like something you are interested in, Utah Youth Village’s program may be right for you. Since 1969, we have been working to help provide young Utahns with the adult relationships and learning opportunities they need to thrive. Today, we serve thousands of individuals a year, helping them find homes with carefully selected families, boarding schools, and other providers.
The purpose of foster care is to provide a safe and loving home for a child who must live away from their family, typically due to abuse, neglect, or ungovernable behavior. Foster care is intended as a temporary arrangement with the goal of reuniting the child with their permanent family when possible. However, some foster families may provide homes for children through to adulthood.
As a foster parent, your rule would be to support children in a time of crisis. This is the ultimate opportunity to make a positive impact on a child’s life. However, the benefits of fostering extend beyond just the child-foster parent relationship. The community is positively influenced by people who are committed to helping others.
It is no secret that fostering a child can come with challenges, especially if that child has a particularly difficult history. However, it is also an opportunity to care for someone who can immensely benefit from your love and support. Additionally, you will have support from the child’s caseworker. Your job will be to protect the child and offer hope while the caseworker determines what can happen with the child’s permanent family.
Utah Youth Village works with foster parents in Utah who are married, single, gay, heterosexual, divorced, and widowed. Some foster parents live in apartments while others own houses. No matter who you are, you can be a foster parent if you can provide love, support, and stability to a child. The state provides financial reimbursement to families in our program.
The Children in the Program
Utah Youth Village was first established as Utah Girls’ Village and focused on providing adequate foster care for young Utahn girls. However, over time, the mission and target population have expanded, hence the name change. We serve children in need of foster care, regardless of their gender.
The children in our program come from a wide range of cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Some are multilingual, and some do not primarily speak English at home. They range in age from birth to 21 years. Frequently, foster children have siblings in foster care with them.
Also, the children in the program have experienced abuse or neglect. Some may have physical, mental, behavioral, or emotional challenges. These special needs may require foster parents with special caregiving skills.
Regardless of the child’s background, all children in foster care are affected by the separation from their families. This can impact the child’s behavior, especially when first starting with a new foster home. Additionally, some children in our program have not experienced the routines and rules of typical family life. So, it is important for foster parents to be prepared to offer extra understanding and patience. Bear in mind that children enter the program through no fault of their own. Part of being a foster parent is helping children feel safe and valued as they deal with the unique challenges that life has presented them.
Utah Youth Village is one of the largest foster care programs in the state. We typically place one to three children in each home. As a foster parent in our program, you will have access to highly trained support staff, including a 24/7 crisis support team. Great foster care starts with good teamwork.
Myths About Foster Care
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding what foster care is. Sadly, these myths can turn some would-be foster families away. These are three of the most impactful misconceptions and their truth about Utah foster care:
- Fostering Is a Financial Strain: Caring for any child comes with additional expenses. However, foster parents receive a monthly stipend from the state to help cover the essential needs of the child, such as food and clothing. While some costs may increase, this stipend covers a large portion of the added expenses. If you are financially capable of supporting yourself and your family, you can support a foster child in Utah.
- All Foster Children Are Troubled or Delinquents: Children in foster care are in the system through no fault of their own. They are not the children that no one else can handle. Some have behavioral issues stemming from neglect, abuse, and/or the trauma of family separation. However, love, support, and patience can have a huge impact on these challenges. We only place children with foster parents who are confident to handle the child’s needs.
- All Foster Parents Are Heterosexual Married Couples: Foster parents of all backgrounds are welcome in our program. The only requirements for being a foster parent are fitting the necessary age range, passing background checks, and being able to provide a stable home for the child. Sexual orientation and gender are not part of our requirements.
There are many more myths about foster care. If you are curious about being a foster parent in Utah, we encourage you to reach out to us and ask questions. Chances are that we can clarify some misconceptions you may have.
Steps for Becoming a Foster Parent
The process for how to become a foster parent in Utah is more straightforward than you may think. In just seven steps, you could be ready to take in a youth in need.
- Complete our online screening application. This helps to ensure that you meet the basic requirements to be a Utah Youth Village foster parent.
- Someone from our team will contact you to schedule a home interview.
- Meet with a consultant in your home. This process involves discussing the program in more depth. We will also review the expectations of foster care. This is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have about being a foster parent. Plus, we will discuss family history and your relevant relationships as the first part of our home study.
- If we both agree to move forward, we will provide a licensing packet. This will help you to meet the other requirements of being a foster parent, including:
- Submitting identification and information for a background check.
- Providing three references.
- Completing all necessary agreements, disclosures, and the contract with Utah Youth Village.
- Providing proof of income, car insurance, and immunizations.
- Visiting your doctor to obtain proof that you are sufficiently healthy to be a foster parent.
- Complete a two-week pre-service workshop. This will help you to learn more about being a foster parent. In particular, the goal is to equip you with the skills you will need to succeed.
- Finish the home study. The final portion of the home study involves a walk-through. It includes verifying that your home and neighborhood are safe. It will also include checking that you have adequate bedroom space for a foster child.
- Make corrections as necessary. The last step is to make any changes that may be required by the home study. It is okay if your home isn’t perfect on the first walk-through, we will let you know what needs to change.
Try Foster Parenting Part-Time
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Utah but unsure about doing it full-time, we have some options. Respite care is a special program that gives children a chance to experience short-term visits in a supporting and loving environment. It is a chance to give a break to other families.
Finding temporary childcare for a foster child can be difficult due to the need for caretakers to be licensed. The respite care program allows foster parents to get the breaks they need (whether to handle important personal matters or just to enjoy a little downtime) without the challenges of finding appropriate childcare.
It is a great way to experience being a foster parent without committing full-time. You may choose this if you are unsure about being a Utah foster parent or if you don’t have the resources to care for a child full-time.
Contact Us To Learn More
Learn more about how to become a foster parent in Utah. Contact Utah Youth Village today.