An important part of being an outstanding foster agency is finding the right resource families to connect these amazing kids with. The need for foster parents always outweighs the availability, so it’s a constant search to reach out to new people, educate them and prepare them for the role of foster parent. Evelyn Alarcon is our Resource Family Recruiter and she is always out in the community, networking and meeting people at events to tell them about what we do and why they should consider fostering through Victor.
Evelyn meets people with a variety of ideas about foster care. Some already know a little about fostering or have even considered it, while others may have never even though of it as an option. There are a lot of misconceptions about fostering and Evelyn tries to give people a more informed view of what fostering is all about. We asked Evelyn about her experience talking to potential foster parents, below are some key takeaways.
5 Misconceptions About Qualifying to Foster
When Evelyn meets people and tells them about Victor as a foster parent agency their reaction is often “Oh that's really nice, but I wouldn't be able to be a foster parent.” Evelyn digs a little deeper and asks them why they think that. There are a variety of reasons but they are almost always a mistaken understanding about what’s actually required to foster.
"I don’t own a home" – There is no requirement to own a home. Renting a home or apartment is fine, as long as you are stable and the home has room to properly accommodate the child.
"I’m not married" – This is a very common misconception. Single or unmarried people can foster. There is no requirement to have a partner or spouse.
"I already have biological kids in the house" – Not a problem. Many foster parents also have their own biological children. It's also important to include your biological children in the preparation to welcome a foster child into the family.
"I don’t make enough money" – You don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent. You do need to be financially stable and able to accommodate the addition of another person in the house, but you will receive a reimbursement from the state to help offset the costs of childcare. You will have to provide proof of income and potentially documentation about your monthly expenses so that the agency can make sure that the placement of a foster child won’t be a major hardship on the household budget.
"I’m undocumented" – In California, undocumented immigrants, especially family members or close friends of a child can be approved as foster parents. Senate Bill 1064 was passed in 2012 to help expand the available options to recruit foster parents to meet the growing need in the state. Agencies can use a foreign passport or other documentation to run a background check and get approval.
After Evelyn addresses all these misconceptions she finds that people will start considering fostering more seriously. As she digs deeper she may have to address other misconceptions or stereotypes. Occasionally Evelyn meets people who have the idea that being a foster parent is like a job that you would apply for. There is a negative stereotype out there that foster parents just do it for the money. This could not be further from the truth. First of all, the reimbursement is not that much money. Additionally, the foster parents have to provide proof that the money is being spent to help the child. State law requires that a certain amount of that money goes to essential things for the child and every month receipts are required as proof.
Why Choose to Foster With Victor?
In a word, support. Victor has worked hard to build a reputation with foster parents as an agency that partners with people to find the best outcomes for foster kids. If you foster with Victor you will always have a support team to call with any questions. Dealing with the government agencies and piles of paperwork can be really intimidating. Some families don’t speak English which makes it even tougher. Victor always wants to make sure that people understand what they are signing and fill out everything correctly the first time. We walk people through the process and help them every step of the way. “Sometimes it will take over two hours just to finish the preliminary work and signing of their application, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s just what it takes,” says Evelyn.
Most children in foster care have experienced some form of trauma. Victor works hard to prepare foster parents to deal with the results of those traumatic experiences in positive ways. Sometimes challenging behaviors present themselves and foster parents need a little extra help. Victor emphasizes good communication between foster parents and social workers, so that when these problems arise they can provide additional resources such as therapy and at-home counseling to help the child work through whatever they are struggling with. When you foster with Victor, you are never on your own, you have a support team.
The Big Goal for this Year
When we asked Evelyn what her goal was for this year she had an answer right away. “Get more families approved,” she said without hesitation. There is a huge need right now and Victor is trying to approve more people to foster. Evelyn shares an office with the intake social worker, and she hears the phone calls that come in every day from the county, looking for placements for kids. She hates when we have to say no, because we simply don’t have enough families. Evelyn is getting the word out and wants to build a big roster of approved foster families so that when those calls come in she can hear YES!
Have you considered fostering a child? We make the process much less scary. We’d love to talk with you and get you some more information to see if it’s a good fit. Click below to find out more.