Foster care is meant to place children who cannot stay in their homes in a safe environment. Various concerns can make a kid’s own home or a relative’s unsuitable. The state takes custody and helps to find a better place for them.
This program aims to ensure that a kid’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being is on point. The state works with families that can provide a kid with essential needs. It could be either a relative or non-relative home, so long as it qualifies as a foster home.
Foster care statistics
According to the TN Alliance for Kids, there are over 415 000 kids under foster care nationwide. Tennessee accounts for slightly less than 8,000 kids in the state welfare program. Research shows that the number of kids entering the foster care system grows every day.
Tennessee is among the states contributing the highest number of kids to the foster care system. Experts have linked this trend to the high rate of opioid prescriptions in the state. Tennessee ranks 2nd on this statistic, meaning a high rate of parental rights termination.
Most unimpressive is the huge number of kids aging out of foster care daily. The system takes care of kids until they turn 18, but then, most of them may not have been adopted by this age. Research has shown that 20% of the kids exiting the system remain homeless.
Since 2010, there has been an increase in the number of kids waiting to be adopted. An increase of 56% has been recorded in the past ten years. Many of them end up stressed after exiting the system with no one available to adopt them.
According to TN Alliance for Kids, 76% of them face post-traumatic disorder making it difficult to move on with life. They can no longer go to school, and only less than 3% earn degrees from colleges. Young women are the most vulnerable, and 2/3 of the total existing foster care conceive by their 21st birthday.
Foster Care Facts
Foster parenting in Tennessee is held with high regard. The state expects a foster parent to act like the real parent to the kid under their care. They need to love and care for them unconditionally. Thus, qualifying as a foster parent requires you to fulfill all the set requirements.
First, kids under foster care have undergone and endured a lot. Foster parents have to be understanding and full of empathy. You need to prove that you can help them through their healing journey from a difficult past.
Tennessee foster parents also get approved for adoption should the kids be available for it. They must be residents of the state aged at least 21 years. The marital status doesn’t matter, and they can be with or without children.
Foster parents can either be renting or owning a house. However, they must prove their ability to meet their family needs comfortably. They should be able to work full-time and be fingerprinted for easier background checks.
The fact that you do not incur any costs to foster in Tennessee is excellent. Foster parents only pay legal fees if they decide to adopt the children after the fostering period. There’s a local department that guides and parents through this process.
The Efficiency of Foster Parenting
Foster parenting has been a successful program in Tennessee. That is despite experiencing challenges such as high demand for foster homes creating shortages. A report by the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services indicates a huge influx of kids entering foster care between 2013 and 2016.
Many states, Tennessee included, are now enticing new foster parents to the system. The TN Alliance for Kids reported that less than half of the state’s kids under foster care live in homes. Nevertheless, the state is working to have more kids in foster homes.