As you may recall from the post about Foster Parents Must Be Married, (spoiler alert in case you have not read it): foster parents do not have to be married; single people can absolutely be foster parents.
So if we understand that foster parents can be single, and we utilize our deductive reasoning, we know that one foster parent does not have to stay home, because in some foster homes there is only one parent, and that parent would (obviously) have to work.
But all that logic aside, I do want come right out with it and say that even for two-parent foster homes, one parent does not have to stay home. Of course, one parent CAN remain at home if they choose, but it is definitely not mandatory; many foster homes consist of two full-time working parents.
And how does that work, specifically in regards to childcare needs? Well, in many ways it might be similar to how it works in non-foster homes, but not totally the same. Mostly, I believe the need of the actual placement will determine the plan, no matter how much you try to plan in advance.
First of all, there might be government assistance available to help pay for childcare for a foster placement (this will be covered in more detail in an upcoming post). Or if a child is school-age, there might be a neighbor who is willing to watch the child for a little bit after school until the foster parents are home from work. In this instance, the neighbor would have a background check run through the licensing agency (Children’s Bureau, of course) and then she or he would be cleared to babysit the child.
Another option might be asking your employer to permit working some hours from home (which is common in this day and age in general #thankscovid), or one parent going to work early so he/she can be off work in time to meet a child getting home from school.
One additional thought I would like to share is this: you may feel as though teenagers don’t need anyone around after school because they are old enough…however, they could easily get into as much trouble (or more) than an unsupervised younger child. Or maybe the teen might need to feel support and comfort by knowing that his foster parents are there for him…not just emotionally but physically; they are there when he leaves in the morning, are there when he gets home from school, they are just there. The teen might not always show this in the most desirable or respectful way, but it may be a strong need for him. More about this in a later post as well.
There are many possibilities, sometimes combined with creative thinking, to create a system that works for your family. As I mentioned, it’s not always something you can figure out ahead of time, because in foster care, things can change and the name of the game for foster parents is sometimes “flexibility”. But, once set, much of it will be similar how childcare operates in non-foster homes.
Hope that provides a little bit of insight for you as you move toward the decision to get your foster care license.