Today I’d like to cover a few of the fallacies associated with the home of a foster parent. We’ve all heard this, that and the other about what DCS requires for a foster care license; so, let’s just go ahead and put a few things out there to clarify.
I’ll start off with a simple one: you have to own your own home. NOT TRUE. You don’t have to own your home. You can rent. You can also live in a condo or apartment, provided it adheres to the space requirements for each child as stipulated by DCS.
Which brings me to point number two: foster children have to have their own rooms. ALSO NOT TRUE. Each child has to have 50 square feet of bedroom space specifically for them. So that means, for example, if you have a bedroom that measures 10×10, you can place two children in that room. You can even use bunk beds.
There are, however, some points about who can share a bedroom. Children of the same gender and less than five years old can share a bedroom. Two biological siblings of different genders can share a room until one turns five. After the age of five, biological siblings cannot share a room.
Also, children do not have to be biological siblings to share a room, as long as they are the same gender. Age (for obvious reasons) does not play into this scenario; however, I’d like to include my own word of caution. For instance, it might not be the best setup for a foster parent to pair a newborn baby with a 15 year old simply because they are the same gender. Anyone who has had a newborn and/or a 15 year old can surely understand why that pairing would not be a good one.
Point number three: infants up to age one can sleep in the same room with the foster parents. TRUE. Now, there are obviously rules about this. NO CO-SLEEPING. The child must be in his own bassinet or crib (and NOT a drop-side crib…those are not allowed by DCS, even if they have a stabilizer to keep it from dropping).
When our son came to live with us, we thought having him sleep in our room would be wonderful and make things so easy. But we quickly learned that he was a noisy sleeper and apparently we were too. So, as soon as he moved to his own room we all began sleeping better. I mention this just to say that it might be convenient but it also has its drawbacks…as in lack of quality sleep.
And moving along to point number four: foster children cannot share a bed. TRUE. Even biological siblings of the same gender cannot share a bed. This may seem unfair if sleeping together is all they have ever known and it might provide comfort during a stressful transition into a foster home. But, these are the rules defined by DCS and they are to protect children who have been abused due to this kind of sleeping arrangement. It’s not something we like to think about but siblings might abuse one another if they themselves have suffered abuse.
And my final point: foster children have to have their own dresser or closet. NOT TRUE. While they can’t share a bed with one another, they can share a dresser or closet space. They simply have to have their own designated space (specific drawers, shelves, etc).
I hope this clears up some of the questions you might have about the home requirements and alleviates some of your concern or apprehension. In my experience, the mere fact that kids can share a room is often a game-changer for potential foster families.