If you are considering becoming a foster parent, you are bound to have a lot of questions. For example, can a foster parent work full-time?
A foster parent can work full-time in most cases. Each state’s rules and regulations are unique, so contact your local DHS for clarification. Although it would be ideal for a foster parent to be more available for their foster child, it’s likely your state will allow a foster parent to work full-time.
Foster children benefit from being with their foster parents over other caregivers, as their foster parents are trained to understand in more depth the special needs that a foster child may require.
Can a Foster Parent Work Full-Time?
There are times when life requires us to work outside the home. Or perhaps you work full-time and are considering becoming a foster parent.
With the shortage of foster homes, being turned down as a prospective foster parent solely because you work outside the home is likely not going to happen.
An obvious consideration would be the quality of the daycare facility that the foster child would be placed in. Do they meet state daycare requirements? Have their employees completed background checks?
When juggling a profession with parenting, there are many moving parts to consider, just as there are when caring for biological children.
You’ll need to present your social worker a plan, sometimes in writing, for approval on how you’ll manage the appointments and meetings you’ll have to attend with your foster child and on her behalf.
You’ll also need a strategy for how you’ll arrange your schedule if your child becomes sick at school or daycare, or if school is not in session over the holidays.
In addition to all of the meetings, seminars, medical appointments, and social worker visits, you may need to plan reunification meetings with your foster child’s birth parents, as well as court visits.
Aside from juggling schedules, keep in mind that the less time you spend with your foster kid, the longer it will take for the two of you to bond or attach.
Some foster parents only volunteer for brief periods of time, such as a weekend or a few days, until a longer-term placement can be found.
One thing is certain: the foster care system needs your love and supervision, whether you choose to stay at home, foster full-time, work full-time, or offer respite care.
Consult your local state agency to determine what will work best for you.
Working Foster Parents Should File for FMLA
Certain employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
It also necessitates the continuation of their group health coverage during the sabbatical.
The FMLA was created to assist employees balance work and family obligations by enabling them to take appropriate unpaid absences for family and medical reasons.
It also aims to protect businesses’ legitimate interests while promoting equal employment opportunities for men and women.
All government entities, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and businesses with 50 or more employees are covered by the FMLA.
These employers must grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to an eligible employee each year for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and care of an employee’s newborn child;
- For the purpose of placing a child for adoption or foster care with an employee;
- To provide care for a member of one’s personal family (spouse, kid, or parent) who is suffering from a terrible illness; or
- When an individual is unable to work due to a significant health issue, they must take medical leave.
Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, for at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months, and at a site where the firm employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles are eligible for leave.
The FLSA standards for calculating compensable hours of labor are used to establish whether an employee has worked the required 1,250 hours.
Needless to say, if you qualify to take advantage of FMLA and you can afford to not get paid during your leave of absence, then it’s a nice option to have during the arrival of your new foster child.
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Ask DHS for Transportation Assistance
Although foster parents are strongly expected to be the transportation providers for their foster children the same as their biological children, there may be times when help is needed.
Some states may provide transportation for your foster child to and from doctor appointments, court appearances, and biological parent visits if you find yourself in a bind and cannot provide transportation for your foster child.
And even though one could ask a caseworker to provide needed transportation, it’s important to remember that caseworkers are burdened with an enormous amount of foster care cases and are already stretched thin.
Ask your local DHS if there are foster care volunteers willing to help with transportation during the times you’re not able to transport your foster child.
The most important takeaway here, though, is to understand those foster parents are expected to provide the same level of responsibility and duties that they provide their biological children.
Taking time off work for necessary medical visits, trips to the courthouse, as well as transportation to and from visitation times with the child’s biological parents.
Consider Only Taking In School-Aged Children
Working full-time is a chore all on its own. Add to that raising children, and you’ve got yourself what we call a full plate.
Foster children of all ages will need your love and support, but you are allowed to request school-aged children only.
Very young foster children not yet in school are an even bigger handful. Babies don’t always sleep through the night, and toddlers are famous for asking for one more drink of water or whatever other excuse they can come up with not to stay in bed at night.
If you need to get up very early the next morning, this can really take a toll. Since you are already spreading yourself thin, having older children who are already in school might help your sanity a bit more.
Swap Favors With Other Foster Parents
Transportation is probably one of the biggest challenges for working foster parents. Consider buddying up with other foster parents and sharing favors.
Providing your state regulations approve, make an offer to the foster parents to watch their foster children while they step out for an evening.
In return, perhaps you may ask for transportation to and from a doctor’s appointment for your foster child while you are at work.
Be creative and socialize with other foster parents. The more you network, the more opportunities you will have to swap favors.
Use Doctor Offices With Evening and Weekend Hours
Some of the larger doctor offices offer later appointments during the workweek, as well as Saturday appointment times.
Making appointments for your foster child during these times may be ideal to alleviate the transportation dilemma and provide some peace of mind.
Final Thoughts for Foster Parents Who Work Full-Time
When juggling a profession with parenting, there are many moving parts to consider, just as there are when caring for biological children. You’ll need to show your social worker a plan, often a written one, for approval on how you’ll manage the appointments and meetings you’ll need to attend with and on behalf of your foster kid.
You’ll also need a strategy for how you’ll arrange your schedule if your child becomes sick at school or daycare, or if school is not in session over the holidays. In addition to all of the meetings, seminars, medical appointments, and social worker visits, you may need to plan reunification meetings with your foster child’s birth parents, as well as court visits.
Aside from juggling schedules, keep in mind that the less time you spend with your foster kid, the longer it will take for the two of you to bond or attach. Some foster parents only volunteer for brief periods of time, such as a weekend or a few days, until a longer-term placement can be found.
One thing is certain: the foster care system needs your love and supervision, whether you choose to stay at home, foster full-time, work full-time, or offer respite care. Consult your local state agency to determine what will work best for you.
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About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.