Becoming a Resource (Foster) Parent

What is Family Foster Care?

Family Foster Care offers a temporary home for a child whose parents are in crisis. Whenever possible, children who must be separated from their families are placed in a foster home in their own neighborhood. The goal of family foster care is to provide a safe, nurturing place for children to live until they can be reunited with their own families, placed with relatives or adopted.

What is the difference between a foster parent, adoptive parent and resource parent?

Foster parents and adoptive parents both take care of children who are placed in out of care home known as foster care. After the passage of the Adoption Safe Families Act in 1997, the notion was to dually prepare individuals to be both a foster and adoptive parent instead of having someone be just one or the other should the need or desire arise so that children would not linger in out of home care without permanency. Maryland Code of Regulations defines a resource parent as is an individual dually approved as a foster and adoptive parent. The Children’s Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines the term: “Resource Families – which include foster parents, foster-to-adopt families and caregivers – are critical partners for child welfare professionals because they provide care for children who cannot live with their parents, and they can play a supportive role in reunification. A broad range of resource families are needed to support the many needs of children and youth involved in out-of-home care.” The term resource parent includes foster parents, kinship parents and adoptive parents who are approved to care for Maryland’s vulnerable children while they are separated from their families.

Are you resource parent material?

There are some questions you should consider before you decide whether or not you want to be a resource parent. Taking a child into your home is a very important decision, and the following questions are designed to help you make a decision that is right for you

  • How will my lifestyle change if I become a resource parent?
  • What goals do I have for my life? What is important to me?
  • Do I have the time and energy to care for a foster child?
  • What age child will realistically be best for my family?
  • Am I ready to give up some of my freedom, or arrange my lifestyle to include a child?
  • Will I be willing to spend my time at home more and socialize less?
  • Can I afford my own expenses, knowing that compensation for having a foster child will be only enough for the child’s needs?
  • How will a child fit into my neighborhood?
  • How will being a resource parent change how I want to grow and develop?
  • How much time am I willing to commit to a child?
  • Am I willing and able to take a child to counseling sessions, doctor’s appointments, court hearings and other regular appointments?
  • Am I willing to attend counseling sessions with the child?

How can I benefit from being a resource parent?

  • Do I like doing things with children?
  • Do I like activities that children could do also?
  • Do I want a child to be “Like me?” Should he/she call me Mom or Dad?
  • How will I view a child’s different values and ideas? Will I attempt to get the child to accept my values?
  • Do I want a boy or girl foster child?
  • Do I want one, or more?
  • How about siblings or teenagers?
  • What ages?
  • Do I want acceptance or gratitude from a foster child?
  • Why do I really want to take a foster child into my home?

What do I know about raising a child?

  • Do I like children?
  • Will I be able to put up with the noise and confusion?
  • How do I deal with my own frustration and anger?
  • How do I handle other people’s anger and frustration?
  • How easy is it for me to tell others what I want or need or what I expect from them?
  • How will I set my rules and enforce them?
  • Am I able to give a child the love he/she needs?
  • Is it easy for me to show love?
  • What is discipline to me?
  • Am I open to new ideas?
  • What will I do if a child doesn’t cooperate with me, or refuses to follow my rules?
  • Can I keep the information that I learn about a child confidential?

How does my family feel about being a resource family?

  • Does my partner also want to share his/her life with a foster child?
  • How about my own children?
  • Have we discussed fostering as a family?
  • Are we secure and stable enough to add a foster child to our family?
  • Will this cause undue stress?
  • Are we both ready to give the time and energy to a child?
  • Will one of us invest more in a child than the other?
  • Can we be a team?
  • Could we share our love with a child without other family members becoming jealous?
  • How will a child fit into our religious life?
  • Are we willing to allow that child to pursue his/her own beliefs, or to choose not to attend church?
  • How will my children accept another child into their lives?
  • Do they want to share their rooms, toys, friends, and parents with another child?
  • How will I feel about a child being removed from my home?
  • How do I feel about the child’s birth parents and the problems they may have?
  • Am I able to understand that a child still loves his/her parents and that I should not interfere with this relationship?
  • What does my family have to offer a child who needs a good, stable, loving home?
  • Which of these questions do we need to discuss more thoroughly before making a decision?