When I brought the idea of doing foster care to my husband, he raised an eyebrow. He wondered why we would ever want to ‘upset’ the quiet, free lifestyle we had. As a couple in our upper thirties, we have grown quite accustomed to the ability to do what we wanted when we wanted.
I see struggling families daily through my work at a nonprofit agency. I see the generational cycle of poverty and trauma. I see how this affects children and often ask why we can’t do something about this. When kids are removed from their families, often all they want to do is go back home - regardless of what their parents may have done or what they have experienced. To me, this is where change can happen. There are things we can do to help families become healthy and prevent them from passing these cycles on to their own children.
As I explained all this to my husband, I said, “How can we NOT?”
We have the physical space, the time, the skills, and most importantly, the willingness to learn the things we don’t know. He had valid concerns, like what if we had a baby? What if the child in our home was mean to our pets? What if the child hated us? What if the child’s parents found where we lived and showed up one day? What if the child tried to hurt us?
I had questions of my own, like how this would affect our work schedules, how would this change our marriage, and if it would be too hard to see a child move back home. I shrugged to these and said, “I don’t know. But I bet we can call a social worker in these situations and they’ll know what to do!” He shook his head, and while I could see his hesitation, he agreed to learn more.
How To Get Get Started
Our licensing worker met with us via Zoom for over an hour, answering our questions and explaining the foster care system as well as the licensing process. My husband felt a bit better about some of his concerns, but it was clear he still was uncertain. I think we both wanted her to make the decision for us, as if she told us to do this, we would have someone to blame if things didn’t work out. She told us she was confident that we could be really great foster parents, but that it was a decision we would have to make on our own and that she would support whatever we decided.
We didn’t talk about it for days after our meeting, both of us processing through the information in our own minds. A week later, my husband said, “You want to do this? Let’s do it, but let’s start with respite.”
I emailed our licensing worker and let her know that we were ready to get started. I’m not kidding around when I say there is a lot of paperwork. There’s background checks, references, and social histories to complete, as well as turning in proof of insurances, marriage, health information, and pet vaccination records. Some might complain about the amount of work this is, but we are asking people to trust us in taking care of their child, so it makes sense that this intricate information would be needed. Our worker was great about helping us keep track of our progress.
We completed our paperwork and trainings within a couple months. The licensing worker did not do a white glove walk-through of our home, checking for dust in the corners. She made sure our house was safe for children – that we had a place to lock medications and tuck away breakable items or things of meaning to us. She turned in our paperwork to the state for final approval of our license.
And now we wait!
This blog article was contributed by a Nexus Family Healing foster parent who is sharing their journey through the process of becoming a licensed provider. Subscribe to our blog to follow their story.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.