Celebrate National Foster Care Month – Become a Foster Parent Today!
By Stevie Bonnevie, Family Resource Specialist at KidsPeace

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to celebrate the amazing individuals who open their homes to children in need and to spread awareness of the need for new foster homes to begin their journey becoming foster parents. In 2021, the state of Maine had approximately 2,200 children in foster care, yet only 1,700 licensed foster homes. The proof is in the numbers – we need more incredible foster parents to join our mission of giving every child a safe, loving home.

The stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health services manifests itself in many ways. In the case of the foster care system, one effect is the acceptance of “myths” about the concept of fostering, the situations from which kids enter foster care, and the rules that govern the system.

That’s where we come in. Here are 9 common myths, and why they don’t represent the truth about foster care:
Foster Care Myth 1
You can’t be single.  FALSE! There are no marital requirements to be a foster parent. Foster parents can be: Single, Married, Divorced, Widowed, Separated, Cohabitating, etc.
Foster Care Myth 2
You can't work full time. FALSE!   Many foster parents work outside the home. There is daycare assistance available!
Foster Care Myth 3
I'm too old. FALSE! The only age requirement is that you must be over the age of 21.
Foster Care Myth 4
You must be a parent. FALSE! Many foster parents do not have childrenl Extensive training is provided to support and prepare new foster parents!
Foster Care Myth 5
I can't have pets. FALSE! Many foster parents have pets. In fact, foster children often respond well to pets. Pets can be a source of comfort and affection to a child who has been hurt or abused.
Foster Care Myth 6
You need to own your home. FALSE! Foster parents can either own or rent. The home must have adequate bedroom space for the children. Each child must have their own bed.
Foster Care Myth 7
You can’t foster if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community. FALSE! Sexual orientation or gender identity DOES NOT disqualify you from being a foster parent.
Foster Care Myth 8
I can’t afford to be a foster parent. FALSE! Foster parents are reimbursed for the care of children in foster care. This stipend is developed by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. The stipend is intended to help with: food, personal hygiene products, allowance, gifts, and other expenses related to raising a child. This stipend is not a paycheck but a reimbursement to help cover the cost of providing care to a child in foster care.
Foster Care Myth 9
I need to wait for the “perfect” time to foster. FALSE! There are definite times when a person should wait to foster – when dealing with a family crisis; health emergency; in transition to a new home, relationship, or job; or during financial struggles.
One reason people say “no” to fostering is “I’m too busy.” Most of us are busy, but what kind of things are keeping you busy? What is the value of these activities for ourselves and for others? Is it time to put aside old activities and try something new and more valuable? Will these things still be there in the future?

If you can’t find the perfect time for yourself, can you find a better time to help children?

You are not in this alone. We will work with you and your family to make foster parenting a successful experience for everyone involved. It’s never too late – or too early – to change a child’s life! Successful foster parents know that they are not doing it by themselves – it does “take a village.” They rely on other members of the treatment team – caseworkers, therapists, and other foster parents, along with friends, and family members.
If you aren’t ready quite yet to become a foster parent, that’s OK! There are many other ways to support children in foster care:

  • Join us in spreading the word about the need for foster parents by sharing a Facebook post, or placing a poster in the window of your small business.
  • Donate items that foster children need or want, such as school supplies, winter gear, or toys and games.
  • Make a monetary donation to your local foster care agency (donations to KidsPeace Foster Care can be made securely at https://www.kidspeace.org/donate/).

Because of people like you, we are able to give children in foster care the support they need during their time in foster care. Whether you open your home as a foster family or donate to local foster care agencies, we thank you for joining us in the celebration of May as National Foster Care Month. Together, we can make the difference in the life of a child.

Any journey starts with a single step. To learn more about becoming a foster parent or other ways how you can help support foster children in your community, visit www.fostercare.com or contact Stevie Bonnevie, Family Resource Specialist at KidsPeace by phone at 207-320-3593 or email at stevie.bonnevie@kidspeace.org.