Become a Caregiver

If you have room in your heart and your home for a child, there are several opportunities to become a valued caregiver. Adoption provides a loving “forever” home for a child whose safety and well-being cannot be ensured with his or her birth parents. Fostering provides a loving temporary home for a child until his or her parents can resume full responsibility or until a permanent home is found.

About Foster Care

The Erie County Office of Children & Youth, foster care agencies and many other organizations support foster parents in caring for children and teens. Foster parents meet with the child’s team at least quarterly to make plans and manage challenges. Foster parents are given a stipend to defray the cost of caring for the child, and each child is covered by medical and dental insurance.

Foster care is:

  • Caring for a child until his or her parents can resume full responsibility, or until another permanent home is found.
  • A commitment to help a child through a difficult period.
  • A good fit for people who can provide love and guidance and then let go.

Situations that lead to a child needing foster care include:

  • Physical and sexual abuse.
  • Neglect or abandonment.
  • Physical or mental illness of a parent.
  • Death of parents.
  • Emotional or behavioral problems.

Children who need foster care:

  • Are of every race, age, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
  • Have different likes and dislikes, talents and skills.
  • Are often in sibling groups, which are kept intact when possible.

Becoming a Foster Parent

Foster parents are adults who:

  • Are married, single or partnered.
  • Are often related to or family friends of the child (kin).
  • Represent all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and genders.
  • Have a desire to help a child succeed.
  • Are willing to accept a child, and possibly siblings, as a temporary member of their family.

Foster parents must be:

  • Flexible.
  • Foster care is usually temporary. Foster parents must be able to let go. In some cases, however, if the child is not able to be returned home safely, the foster parents may be interested in adopting. Every situation is different, and often unpredictable.
  • Organized.
  • Foster parents work with the child’s team to organize the child’s family visits, schoolwork, clinical appointments, meetings and court appointments.
  • Team Players.
  • Collaborative with caseworkers, therapists, doctors and others. Foster parents welcome service providers into their home and transport children to appointments. Ideally, foster parents can partner with the birth parents, as well, and build a positive relationship with them when possible.
  • Dedicated and understanding.
  • Supportive. Children and teens healing from trauma are hurt. They express their hurt at many different times, and in many different ways. Foster parents work to respond to these expressions in the best way possible, based on their training.

Foster parents are required to:

  • Meet all state requirements.
  • Undergo a criminal and child abuse background check.
  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Complete 15 hours of pre-service training.
  • Demonstrate proof of income.