The Benefits and Challenges of Fostering

Becoming a foster parent is a decision that can change your life, and there are joys and struggles that come with this unique and rewarding experience. We chatted with Amy Morin, psychotherapist and bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, to gather her best advice when it comes to fostering. She spent over a decade as a therapeutic foster parent, and has first-hand experience with the benefits and challenges of taking on this important role in a child’s life — logistically, mentally and emotionally. 

The Benefits of Fostering

Fostering is a way to become a parent-like role model for kids in need. This is probably the greatest benefit of fostering children: helping kids.  

“Fostering allows you to do something positive for children, parents, and communities,” Morin says. “It allows you a chance to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.” Fostering can also be a way to test the waters to see if you would like to adopt in the future, which would of course be a significant change in your life.  

How to Get Started  

So, how do you get started in your fostering journey? “Foster parents can do some online research to learn about the process in their state,” Morin says. Most state websites have information about what is required, such as a home study, classes and other basic requirements. To learn more about what Ohio requires of fostering parents, visit  

Beyond the expected changes of providing adequate space for foster kids, there could be some surprise changes you’d need to make as well. “You may need to make modifications to your home to meet safety and fire regulations too,” Morin adds. This is something your state website would cover. “The size of your windows or the height of your railings are just a few examples of things that may need to change to meet the state’s requirements.” Knowing all this can help you better prepare to be a foster parent. 

Rolling with the Challenges 

Just like any endeavor, fostering children can come with some challenges. These can include issues like dealing with the child’s behavioral issues, managing uncertainties for the future, and practical logistics that can make it difficult, such as transporting children to appointments, family visits and attending meetings. 

Behavioral issues can be especially complicated to manage. “It can be difficult to get a clear behavior plan or to get clear answers on how to deal with issues that are likely to arise,” Morin says.  

Treating these behavioral problems can be a challenge when these issues stem from health matters. “It’s frustrating, at times, because you aren’t the guardian, so you can’t grant permission for certain things, like medical care,” Morin says. “And it may be tough to reach a guardian, even though it’s an urgent matter.” 

In addition to these crucial challenges, there are others to consider. “If you have other children living in the home, it’s also important to consider how fostering could impact them,” Morin says.  

“And it’s important to be realistic about any limitations you may have, such as not being able to care for a child with extensive needs or not being able to take in a set of siblings,” she continues. Moreover, fostering can impact your emotional health. “It’s also important to remember that you don’t know how long a child will reside with you,” says Morin. “It may be a couple of days, or it may be a few years.”  

For this reason, it’s important to have a strong support system in place before you’re thinking of fostering. It’s also good to take time for yourself to replenish your own needs, so that you have the capacity to care for others. 

While the road may not always be smooth, the rewards of providing a loving and stable home for a child in need are immeasurable. The joy of witnessing a child’s growth and knowing that you’ve made a positive impact on their life is a gift like no other.  

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