Unpacking Foster Meaning
Curious about what the “foster” in foster care means? Let’s unpack the term in the realm of child welfare.
What does foster mean?
If you look up “foster” in the dictionary, you’ll see a definition for a verb meaning to raise, bring up or give parental care to. And, in the realm of child welfare, that’s pretty much spot on. In a situation when a youth can’t live with their guardian, they may live with another individual or family members that foster them in the interim.
What does “foster child” mean?
In this setting, a foster child or foster youth is someone under the age of 21 (in California) who has been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect by a parent or guardian. The youth enters the Child Welfare System, becomes a ward of the State and is placed in the custody of certified Resource Parents who foster that youth. In California, there are close to 56,000 foster youth.
What does it mean to be a foster parent?
A foster parent is someone who takes in and cares for a youth for a period of time based on the case requirements. As opposed to fost–adoption, in which the foster youth becomes a legal part of the family after a period of being fostered.
How long do foster children live with foster parents?
The amount of time that youth are in foster care can vary dramatically. Some may find themselves as foster kids for just a few days, while for others it’s years. Around 45 percent of all foster youth are in foster care for under 12 months, while 28 percent remain in foster care for 12 to 24 months and an additional 27 percent are in foster care for over two years.
How come the official term is now Resource Parent?
In California and many other states, foster parents are legally known as resource parents. To learn more about why this shift happened and what it signifies, consider checking out this blog post.
Can foster youth be adopted?
Sometimes, foster youth can indeed be adopted. However, in most cases, the goal is reunification – to return youth back to the care of biological family or legal guardians. For over half of foster youth, the stated case goal is reunification.
But, in other instances, reunification is not possible. In those instances, foster youth can be adopted if such a path is deemed ideal for both the youth and the adoptive family.
Where can I go to learn more about foster care?
For more information about different foster care options in Northern California, head to afs4kids.org/become-foster-parent/. For additional inquiries, please feel free to get in touch with an AFS expert via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-300-1022.
Alternative Family Services (AFS) provides thoughtful, informed foster care, adoption and mental health services throughout California’s San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento region. Since 1978, the mission of AFS has been – and continues to be – to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety and well-being in communities through foster care, adoption and mental health services.