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Are you a caring, giving type of person who likes to have others around? If so, here’s something you might enjoy: being a foster care provider. Depending on your strengths and preferences, you can choose from a number of different types of fostering. Read on to find out more.
Foster care for kids
There’s plenty of demand for foster care placements for kids displaced by the opioid epidemic and other social ills. You could end up with anything from a baby to a teenager, or even more than one kid. Being a foster care provider for youngsters isn’t necessarily odd for folks of retirement age. Many grandparents are bringing up grandchildren. You could help some child who doesn’t have that option.
To qualify you would need to talk to the state office of children, youth and families. They have people who can teach you the rules for safety and so on, and set you up with a child to care for. The child comes with some money, typically, to help with food, clothing and so forth while with you. There may also be respite to give you a break. No matter how nice your fosterling is, you should take breaks, so don’t pass this up.
The state may also want to have your home checked out by the fire chief. He will make sure there are good ways to get out in case of emergency. He’ll also check your smoke and CO2 detectors. There may be other considerations varying by state.
If you love kids and enjoy helping them grow into good people, this could be the gig for you.
Foster care for adults with mental disabilities
If you prefer adult company but don’t mind some caretaking or instructing, check into providing foster care for adults with intellectual disabilities. These are people who may well have activities outside your home for the day, but need supports to succeed in a home setting. They would not be able to keep an apartment on their own.
As a foster care provider, you would give your adult a room of his own but he would have meals with you and spend evenings and weekends with you for sure. He might have family wanting to visit, but many have lost theirs. In that case, you’d be providing that family feeling.
And, like any home, he’d stay home when he picks up the flu at work. You would take him to doctor appointments. You might even be trained to give medications, tube feed, change any needed dressings, and so forth.
Your foster adult would learn in your home as well, to become more independent with various activities. So you may be called on to train him to do laundry so he can do his own someday. You would become part of his team and participate in his periodic planning meetings, If there are problems, his team would help you work through them. Again, respite is often offered. Take it and stay strong for your person.
Your home would be inspected for safety, much as with the fostering of kids. The agency would teach you rules about how to store household chemicals and keep track of medications.
This type of arrangement is reimbursed, normally by the state, through the agency that places your foster adult with you. It’s known as “difficulty of care” payment, and it goes up according to how difficult the care is to provide. In addition, the adult’s own money pays you room and board payment. The difficulty of care payment is special in terms of taxation. Have that checked out by your accountant or preparer.
Foster care for elders
This type of foster care could be done one on one instead of assisted living. It’s commonly a relative you would take in. Thus, there probably won’t be a lot of money in it. The elder’s own income and insurance should pay his way for everyday needs.
If you do want to take in an elder, take care of yourself as well. Some states have area agencies on ageing; others have various resources you can reach by calling a special number like 211. You owe it to yourself and your foster elder to check these services out. They can be anything from day programs for people with dementia, respite for you, or nursing support. A program may build you a ramp because your elder doesn’t do stairs.
Again, you will be taking your elder to medical appointments and learning to give medications and do physical care for him. It can be heavy lifting for you. If you have advance notice, consider taking an LNA course. Learn how to lift people and do some of the care, such as skin care–a real necessity with elders. Your elder may have special needs you would need to learn about too. For his sake and yours, pull in supports and learn as much as you can.
Try providing respite first
The best way to know about whether providing foster care is to try it out. The agency that handles foster care that you want to deal with may also run a respite program. They would need people to take in foster folk for a short stay. You could see what it’s like, iron out some little snags, and meet foster care providers. Then it would be easier to imagine how it would work permanently.
Or you could start off with fostering animals from animal shelters. Some would-be pets have special needs, like getting used to people. They can’t easily do special-case care in shelters but you could tailor the pet’s experience in your home. And although most of the action is in your home, you will have ongoing contact with the shelter about the pet’s progress.
Fostering people (or pets) in your home gives you a meaningful role in another person’s life, plenty to do, and contacts outside the home. You may have some income as well, but most rewarding is the experience of helping someone live a good life. If this appeals to you, check out your local options, such as:
- area agency on ageing
- state division of children and families
- elder services referral agency
- state or county developmental services
- local service provider for intellectual disabilities
- humane society or animal shelter
You can make a difference and fill some empty space in your life as well, doing foster care. Check around and see what opportunities exist near you.
Have you tried foster care or respite? Share your experiences!