There are so many benefits to becoming a foster parent and so many children who need foster homes, so we sat down with an expert to learn the ins and outs of the process.
“Because of the lack of homes available, there is overcrowding, there is a lot of children who are being moved more than should be because there’s not enough places for them to be,” Foster care navigator Lynette Gill said.
The numbers will make your heart sink; there are 12,800 children in the Michigan Foster System.
There are not enough families for 75 percent of those children ages 13 to 18, so they live in residential placements with staff.
“The biggest thing you have to have is the dedication; foster care is, we say, it’s not just hard work, it's heart work.”
As a foster care navigator, Gill’s job is to help potential and current foster parents through the licensing process and anything else they may need.
“You do have to be at least 18 years old,” She said. “You have to have a place to live, you don't have to own your home, you can rent your home, but you do have to have requirements for bedroom sizes, there are trainings that you have to go through.”
It’s work that Gill has personal experience with.
“I was a foster child and I have a wonderful family that adopted,” she said. “My husband and I decided since we can no longer have children that we were going to foster and we were going to try to be that special family for the kids coming into care just as my parents were for me.”
The now adoptive and foster mother says there are resources for short or long term foster parents, including school transportation, furniture, clothes and funding.
“We are in definite need of foster homes that are willing to do the transition with a child for a forever home,” Gill said. “We have many children also coming into care that are in need of shorter term, maybe two months, six months, nine months while the biological parents are able to get the support that they need.”
If you’re interested in adoption, foster care is one way to begin that process.
“These children are going to come to you with broken hearts and they’re going to need people who are going to help get them on a routine, be able to stabilize and be there for them, that is the biggest thing in foster care is to know that you have a support group that is going to be there for you unconditionally,” Gill said.
Licensed foster parents usually begin welcoming one to three children into their homes but can have up to eight foster, adoptive and biological children in their homes at one time.
“Every child deserves a family, every child deserves a chance and even if they’re only with us for a month or two months or a week, we know that we can make a difference with them,” Gill said.
You can visit the Foster Care Navigator website for more information on becoming a foster parent.