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Publication #FAR0008

Foster Parenting1

Amanda Quaas and Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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Eddie Murphy, Duane Culpepper, Superman, Marilyn Monroe, Alonzo Mourning, Cher, Ice T, John Lennon, James Dean, and Babe Ruth: What do all these people have in common? They were foster kids!

Foster parenting is a job that gets little attention and is in great demand. It involves taking a child into your home—a child who has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, or whose primary caregivers are unable to meet their parenting duties—and caring for them as if they are one of your own. It's parenting with challenges potentially far exceeding the norm. However, the rewards can be extraordinary as well. Imagine Superman calling on Mother's or Father's Day.

In the 2004-2005 school year, it is estimated that there will be another 78,000 children placed into the foster care system. That's in addition to the 550,000 children already in foster care. The largest portion of children in foster care is from ages 11-15. This is not an easy age when they are your own children!

How do you know if foster parenting is for you? Do you have a strong support system or family? Are you a patient, committed person? What are your expectations of children and foster parenting? How good are you at saying goodbye? How does your family feel about doing foster care? After all, foster parenting isn't just about parents. It's a job that impacts the entire family. Do you have a lot of love to give?

If you can answer why you want to be a foster parent and want determine if foster parenting is right for you, the next step is to contact your state foster care representative.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR0008, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Broadcast as program 66 in January 2005. Reviewed and published February 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amanda Quaas, student, and Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.