Muriel Alexander was a foster parent for 28 years in Erie, Pa. During that time she fostered 208 children. She and her husband had 5 biological children and, along the way, also adopted 14 children from foster care.
They weren't all easy days, but Muriel said she never considered giving up fostering.
"Every child deserves a family that will give them love, support, and a commitment to forever," says Muriel, who now volunteers with a group called Foster Erie to spread awareness about the need for foster parents in her community.
May is National Foster Care Month and Macaroni KID wanted to take that opportunity to share the great need for foster care parents in the United States.
There are more than 400,000 children in the United States in foster care, with the average child spending about a year and a half in the system, according to 2020 statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Those numbers mean more foster care parents are always needed.
ธนารักษ์ วรการเดชา's Images via Canva
Interested, but not sure where to start?
Interested in learning more about offering a temporary safe, nurturing, and loving home for a child in need?
All foster parents in the United States must be licensed or approved. The process and requirements differ from state to state, and even county to county, however.
But no matter where you are, the National Foster Parent Association says most agencies expect foster parents to:
- Be able to provide 24-hour care and supervision on a daily basis
- Be able to care for yourself financially without the child’s stipend
- Be flexible, patient, and understanding
- Have a sense of humor
- Have a home free of fire and safety hazards
- Complete a criminal/protective services background check
- Have the ability to work as a member of a team
Reach out now!
The Children's Bureau, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, maintains a directory of contact information for state child welfare officials, programs, organizations, and services with a focus on foster care, permanency, and adoption. It's a great place to get started in finding a local organization near you to partner with to become a foster care family.
Want to know more? The National Foster Parent Association offers resources and education to foster parents or people interested in learning more about fostering.