How to Volunteer for Being a Foster Parent

The Foster Parenting Process

The foster parenting process begins with the initial idea, but you must think seriously about the commitment. Promising to care for another person's child takes dedication and stamina. There are some things to consider before you contact anyone:

  • There are multiple levels of need for the children in foster care programs.
  • Many of the children are preteen or teenaged.
  • Most of the children will be reunited with their caregivers at some point, so the situation is not permanent (unless you want to seek adoption).
  • You'll have to work closely with the court system, the foster parent system and the biological parent or guardian of the children.
  • Having a child move in or out of your home may disrupt or change your established home life. You may also have your private information made available in some cases, because court records can become public [source: MFCAA].

When you've decided to make a true commitment to becoming a foster parent, you can take the next steps toward receiving your foster care license. When a new child is placed in your home, you may experience an adjustment period. It's important to remember that the child has just lost his or her original family, so there may be an initial rough period. You will also need to have a close working relationship with any caseworkers, legal representatives or parents who are involved [source: NYSOCFS].

Foster parenting is a big step, so it helps to know others who are going through the same process. Look for foster parenting local or online support groups to make new friends, get advice and have support during any difficult times. To learn more, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • AdoptUsKids. "About the Children in Foster Care." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • Bosman, Julie. "Too Old for Foster Care, and Facing the Recession." The New York Times. 04/07/09. (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway. "National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search." (Accessed 04/29/09)
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  • IRS. "A 'Qualifying' Child." 01/2005. (Accessed 04/29/09),,id=133298,00.html
  • MFCAA. "Get Started." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • MFCAA. "Thinking About Becoming a Foster Parent? Some Things You Should Know." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • MDHHS. "Becoming a Foster Parent." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • NYSOCFS. "Living with a Foster Child." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • NYSOCFS. "Requirements to Become a Foster Parent." (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • Thompson, David. "Couple honored for giving decades of foster care." The Williamsport Sun-Gazette. 04/29/09. (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • USDHHS. "The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2006 Estimates as of January 2008 (14)." 01/2008. (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • USDHHS. "Trends in Foster Care and Adoption-FY 2002-FY 2007 (Based on data submitted by states as of January 16, 2008)." 01/2008. (Accessed 04/29/09)
  • WSDSHS. "Licensing Requirements." (Accessed 04/49/09)