Guest Blog by Ryan Jones with Modernize.com, who have written for The Huffington Post, About.com and Time Magazine.
Deciding to become a foster parent is one of the most empathetic decisions you will ever make. However, beginning to plan for this transition can be overwhelming, especially if you are looking to buy or build a new home. What will my family’s needs be for our new space? How many bedrooms will I need? Do I need to consider the school district? By thinking through the many demands being a foster parent will have, you can compose a must-have list for your dream home. At Modernize, we are always eager to help you turn those ideas into a reality, especially when that dream is so empowering. Here are our tips on buying or building a home with fostering in mind.
As with any major purchase, you will want to consider your budget wisely and not overestimate exactly what you can afford. Although each state does offer financial assistance for each child that is placed with a family, there will most likely be expenses that come in over and above that amount. For example, not every state offers a stipend for child care; if you live in one of these states, then you will need to factor in the cost of childcare into your monthly budget. Talk to other foster parents about their family’s monthly requirements and apply that information to the budget for your new home.
Although foster children typically can share a bedroom, all states require that boys and girls have separate rooms after a certain age. If you are hoping to provide a home for multiple children, it’s smart to go ahead and have at least two bedrooms specifically designated for your foster children. Then, you won’t run into any issues if these children stay for the long-term. Entering a new home can be scary, especially for young siblings, and it can be very comforting for them to be able to share a room. In this instance, having bedrooms that are large enough to hold multiple beds is a definite must-have, since all states require that each child have their own bed.
No parent would want their child living in a dangerous atmosphere, so the state will conduct a fire and safety audit on any prospective foster home. When looking for a new home, it is wise to have already discussed with your counselor what the inspector will check for, so you can address those issues with your realtor.
Foster children have enough upheaval going on in their lives. The last thing they need is to have to change schools in the process of changing homes, too. Most states require that you live within the same school district as the children you foster for just that reason. No matter what the district, there will be children in need of a good home, so it is up to you how much weight you want to give to your potential home’s school district.
Children who have special needs are quite difficult to place, especially since most people’s homes will simply not accommodate his/her needs. If you have indicated that you are open to this possibility, then you will need to take extra steps to ensure that your new home is equipped to support whatever this child may require. There are definitely more factors to consider when buying or building a new home when you hope to become a foster parent, but in the end, the time and energy spent doing so will be well worth it when you finally get to meet your new family member!