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Taking in a foster child - this should be taken into account for future foster parents
When couples decide to become foster parents, they need to be carefully considered and prepared. Dr. Carmen Thiele from the Federal Association of Foster and Adoptive Families explains.
What is the difference between foster and adopted children?
Unlike adoptive parents, foster parents do not have legal parenting - and that has a significant impact on everyday life: For the child they take in, they only get decision-making authority for "everyday care", but not custody. This remains with the previous guardian, sometimes the biological parents, but mostly the youth welfare office or a guardian. This means: In the event of so-called "violations of physical integrity" - such as piercing ears or vaccinations - foster parents need their consent. The same applies to trips or measures that greatly change the child's appearance, such as a new hairstyle.
Is it true that the birth parents can take the child away from us at any time?
Yes and no. Foster children often stay with their new families permanently; but almost 40 percent of the children do not. They do not necessarily return to their families of origin, but rather move - especially when they are teenagers - to supervised living groups. It also happens that the foster parents for their part end the foster relationship due to excessive demands. Often, however, a good relationship remains even after the spatial separation. In most cases, the youth welfare office can estimate at an early stage whether a child will only be placed in "standby care" for a period of a few weeks or months. This happens both in an acute crisis situation, but also quite often when, for example, the single mother has to go to hospital for an operation. The situation is different with "permanent care": As a rule, the biological parents are so overwhelmed that their child does not grow up with them, but should not lose contact, incidentally, also with grandparents and other relatives, sometimes even childhood friends. These children very often grow up with their foster families.
How do I become a foster mother or father?
Anyone who takes in a related child temporarily does not need a state permit for this "care for relatives"; this applies up to the third degree of relationship. If, on the other hand, you want to look after someone else's child day and night, you need a care permit from the youth welfare office for this "full-time care". As a rule, the youth welfare office places children in suitable foster families.
How old are most of the foster children?
Most of the children are between three and nine years old. But: Infants are also regularly placed in foster families, and in some cases also young people. Attention is paid to what he or she needs most. Another family experience? Then a foster family is the right choice. On the other hand, those who are currently in the pubertal phase of replacement are often accommodated in a youth group.
What are the requirements for foster parents?
Foster parents must also prove that they are healthy, drug-free, have a decent income, and have sufficient time to care for the child. Noticeable differences: With foster parents, both the age difference to the child and the marital status play a much smaller role. Older couples or single people find it much easier to find a foster child than an adopted child. To this end, social workers pay attention to their parenting skills and psychological stability in personal conversations, because foster parents usually deal with children who have a turbulent history and in some cases also have health problems. Like adoptive parents, foster parents must also demonstrate that they can spend enough time with the child and are willing to work with the youth welfare office for the child's benefit.
Is adoption also an option? We have more information here.
How do I manage to cope with the problems of my foster child?
Future foster parents are usually very well informed in preparatory seminars. But living with problems is something else. Foster children very often have attachment problems: They can be distant and also make quick and strong contact with strangers. Or have an excessive need for autonomy - because they had to be independent at an early age. Foster parents should be able to deal with it and be patient: Children can only break down these patterns acquired at an early stage very slowly.
How do I manage to live up to my role as a foster mother or father?
Even after a foster child has moved in, the social workers remain important mediators and advisors. How intensively they accompany foster parents in everyday life depends very much on the current situation: Often, monthly supervision appointments are sufficient, sometimes simple relief in everyday life is helpful - a domestic help, for example, or someone who does homework with the child so that the school stress weighs less on family life . Many parents find emotional and practical help from like-minded people, e. B. in foster parent groups.
How much would the youth welfare office and the birth parents talk into our everyday upbringing?
At least once a year, an employee of the youth welfare office, the physical and foster parents meet and write together the so-called "help plan" for the child. It states, for example: should the child have more or less contact with mother or father from now on? Would he like to see other relatives more often, such as siblings or grandparents?
Do I get money for a foster child?
Yes. Foster parents receive care allowance - the amount varies depending on the municipality. Many of them follow the recommendations of the German Association for Public and Private Welfare e.V., which recommends between 714 and 875 euros per month, depending on the age of the child. In addition, subsidies can be applied for at the youth welfare office, for example for school trips, vacation trips or for initial equipment. Foster parents also receive child benefit, which is partially offset against the care benefit: If the foster child is the oldest child in the household, half of the child benefit is credited, and a quarter for younger children.
Can I adopt my foster child later?
That is seldom during the care period and it is also not the actual goal. Foster care is not a delayed adoption, but help with the upbringing - in a strange family. Above all, the birth parents would have to give their child up for adoption; In some cases, the youth welfare office tries to get approval from them or even to get this approval from a guardianship court. What happens quite often, however, is that adult “children” are adopted by their foster parents - and so, when they reach the age of majority, transform the family reality into a legal one.
I would like to take in an unaccompanied refugee child. How does it work?
The youth welfare office also coordinates the placement of refugee children. However: In the vast majority of cases, these are male adolescents over 16. For some, a foster family may be the right thing to do, but most feel better in youth residential groups - where they can stay with friends, with whom they have fled together or whom they met on the way to have. What is often sought, however, is a voluntary guardian: Guardianship is arranged through the youth welfare office or regional private initiatives and must be applied for at the family court. After a preparatory seminar lasting several hours, a guardian takes on legal support, for example with asylum applications, and takes care of the minor's upbringing and health.
Technical advice: Dr. Carmen Thiele from the Federal Association of Foster and Adoptive Families e.V.
You will find more exciting topics in our EMOTION SPECIAL "Wanting to have children - what to do". You can order the magazine here.
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