Can I homeschool and become a foster parent?
This was a question I asked myself four years ago. I was just two years into homeschooling my then 2nd-grader and kindergartener when my husband and I felt called to become foster parents.
Since then, we have had 6 children in our home, one of whom we adopted and another we are in the process of adopting.
Foster care has brought many blessings and challenges to our family, including our homeschooling. While it is possible to homeschool and foster successfully, there are many things you need to consider before making your final decision.
Top 5 things you need to consider before homeschooling AND fostering
1. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.
Do you have a desire to be a foster parent, but your husband is hesitant or vice versa? Before you commit to opening your home to hurting children, be sure you both want to commit your family to the responsibilities that come with foster care.
Like any other major decision (such as deciding to homeschool), if you and your spouse are on opposing sides, you might feel resentment towards each other.
This resentment will not be a good environment to promote healing for kids in foster care. It will also cause problems for your biological children. (See point #2)
2. Consider your biological children’s needs.
The reality is most children you foster will not be in your home permanently. You and your biological children will experience the joys and devastations that come when children come and go.
Do your biological kids have their own high needs or trauma to overcome? Are your children excited about welcoming children into your home? Do your biological children handle change and loss well?
All these questions need to be thought through and discussed as a family to decide if adding foster care on top of your decision to homeschool would be wise. It’s a good idea to ask your children if they have questions about foster care for you to answer.
Kids think of things we might never think to ask! While your children won’t make the final decision, their opinion and needs need to be taken into consideration when you are in the early stages of making the decision to foster.
3. What kind of support system do you have?
Are you close with your extended family and are they supportive of your decision to homeschool AND foster? Are you connected with a church or homeschool community, such as MPE, that you can bring your questions to when things come up? Do you have people in your life that will pray for you and offer practical help in times of need?
This is VITAL to your success as a homeschool and foster family! Homeschooling and fostering have their own unique challenges. In order to be successful at doing them concurrently, it is imperative that you have outside resources in your back pocket to avoid burnout.
“Families that homeschool and foster NEED community in order to survive and thrive.”
4. Foster care is a HUGE time commitment.
You are already familiar with the joys and struggles the time commitment home educating your children brings. Knowing how to manage your time as a homeschooling family is a good tool to have should you decide to foster.
Kids in foster care have lots of appointments. From court dates, case worker visits, nurse case manager visits, visits with their biological family, doctor visits, therapies and WIC appointments to name a few. This means you will have to be available to have the child or children you are fostering where they need to be, when they need to be, so they can be picked up or transported by you to these appointments.
This requires a lot of your time, not to mention the day-to-day care involved with parenting a hurting child; including making sure they are getting to and from school and doing their homework, which brings me to my next point:
5. You will most likely NOT be able to homeschool your foster children.
If you foster school-aged children, they will most likely continue going to the school they were already enrolled in if possible. If it is not possible for them to stay at their current school (due to transportation issues or safety concerns), they will be enrolled in the district in which you live.
There are many reasons for this, one being that their life is now in complete upheaval. Their school and the staff at their school are something familiar to them, which is a comfort during the time they are away from home.
Even in cases of adoption through foster care, if you ask to homeschool the child in your care it takes the approval of the case worker, the case worker’s supervisor, the Guardian ad Litem and the judge overseeing their case. I have yet to know anyone who has gained this approval in my four years as a foster parent.
“You should ask yourself, ‘Do I have the time to commit to fostering, as well as maintaining my commitment to homeschool?’ ”
Here are some great resources to get started in your homeschooling and foster care journey:
MPE-If you are already committed to homeschooling, it’s a great idea to get connected with other homeschooling families. MPE offers support, community, and much more! By joining MPE, you will have access to all these resources and more!
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For those interested in getting licensed to foster in KS, click here.
For those interested in getting licensed to foster in MO, click here.
We have updated this blog post, originally published in June 2018, for timeliness and detail.