Another consideration that is often overlooked is the family's financial situation. While foster families are given a monthly stipend, the amount varies greatly from state to state. Some states also offer a clothing allowance in addition to the stipend. And, while medical coverage is provided for the children, it sometimes doesn't cover everything. If the child coming into the home is a baby, there will be diapers and formula to buy. For older children, there will be the cost of food, school supplies, and entertainment. Given all of this, it's easy to see that there will likely be a need for the family to take on what could amount to a significant added expense.
Another important factor in your decision should be the level of commitment you feel you can provide. While some foster parents are needed for short-term placements lasting several days or weeks, others are needed to care for children for several years. Are you the type of person who easily becomes attached? If so, then perhaps you should state your preference for a child who will need long-term care.
Now, let's say you are comfortable with everything discussed so far, and are still willing to proceed. Certification requirements differ from state to state, as well as among agencies (i.e., state-run agencies may have different requirements than their private counterparts). In general though, before you can be certified to provide foster care, you will probably need to submit to an in-depth personal evaluation which, based on Baldwin's experience, can include questions about your finances, health, family, employment, friends, personal accomplishments, and aptitude for dealing with difficult children. You can also expect a background check for criminal activity, sexual offenses, and child abuse. Your home will likely be inspected to ensure it is safe and has sufficient living and bed-space. You can also expect regular (and sometimes, unannounced) visits from caseworkers after children have been placed in your home to ensure certain conditions and standards are maintained. Finally, training will probably be necessary, although the requirements differ from state to state.