5 Benefits of Being a Foster Parent

When you welcome a child or teen in foster care into your home, you’re accepting the challenges and sacrifices that come with it. You’re also ushering in a world of growth, second chances, love, and hope.

Many foster parents say that the benefits of being a foster parent outweigh the challenges and that it’s the most rewarding experience of their lives. 

You may benefit in ways you can’t even imagine. To get you started, here’s a list of the top five benefits of being a foster parent.

Learn More About Becoming a Foster Parent

5 Benefits of Being a Foster Parent

When you welcome a child or teen in foster care into your home, you’re accepting the challenges and sacrifices that come with it. You’re also ushering in a world of growth, second chances, love, and hope.

Many foster parents say that the benefits of being a foster parent outweigh the challenges and that it’s the most rewarding experience of their lives. 

You may benefit in ways you can’t even imagine. To get you started, here’s a list of the top five benefits of being a foster parent.

1. Make A Real Difference

Most people want to help make the world a better place. Maybe you write checks, volunteer at fundraisers, and donate to toy drives. These are all good things, but sometimes you might still be left feeling a little empty. You may wonder if you made a genuine difference in anyone’s life.

When you open your home to a child or teen in foster care, you’ll get a daily reminder that you’re making a difference. Every day, someone who may have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect will wake up in your safe and loving home instead of feeling forgotten or “lost in the system.”

One of the most significant foster parent benefits is that you can go to sleep at night knowing that — just down the hall — an innocent youth who has experienced challenges in life is sleeping soundly because of you.

2. Form Friendships In The Foster Parent Community

Foster parents everywhere rely on compassion and empathy from fellow foster parents. Whether you’re meeting for coffee or joining others at an organized support group, you will value the support and guidance that the foster parent network provides. Many foster parents say they have developed lifelong friends from the foster parent community.

UMFS knows that peer support isn’t just “nice to have” — it’s essential to your success as a foster parent and your well being. That’s why, within the UMFS community, you’ll find ample opportunities to meet, mingle, and network with other foster parents. 

We coordinate monthly support groups, provide connections to mentors and parent trainers, and offer numerous other opportunities to join with other foster parents to learn and grow in your journeys.

3. Build Skills With Specialized Training

The process of becoming a foster parent involves a lot more than just filling out paperwork and completing background checks. As a foster parent, you’ll engage in specialized training before a child or teen begins living with you, and you’ll continue doing so for as long as you’re a foster parent.

The knowledge and skills you learn during this training will benefit you as you raise both foster and biological children, interact with adults and youth in your community, and collaborate with teammates at work. The transferability of learned skills is practically endless.

For example, UMFS foster parents learn more than the nuts and bolts of the foster care system. You will learn about brain development, gain insight into parenting youth with traumatic backgrounds, and learn skills to help you cope. As a foster parent, you will also earn and maintain CPR certification, and develop skills in conflict management and communication.

Building and strengthening skills is one of the major foster parents benefits. The skills you learn mean you’ll become not only a better foster parent, but also a better spouse, friend, and citizen.

4. Be A Role Model

You might have already considered that you could be a good role model for your foster youth. But the benefits of this role extend a bit further. As a foster parent, you can be a role model for your foster and biological children, their friends, and your entire community.

Welcoming youth in the foster program into your home is a great opportunity to model the values of service, love, and compassion to biological children. Plus, you can show all the youth in your home that family isn’t about blood. Many develop such close bonds with their foster parents and siblings that it’s as if they’ve been together since the beginning.

When others see the good you’re doing, they might be motivated to give in a similar way. Your example could inspire them to donate to an organization that serves youth in foster care, volunteer with the program, or even become a foster parent themselves. Just think how much good you could inspire!

5. Receive Mentorship & Financial Support

Remember, as a foster parent, you’re not alone. Even after your initial training and preparation are over, you’ll benefit from several modes of support to help you in your new role.

UMFS, for example, provides 24/7 on-call support, mentoring, monthly support groups and parent trainers. Also, UMFS foster parents benefit from 12 hours of continuing education training per year. These opportunities will help you feel equipped with knowledge and supported by a strong community.

While monetary allowances shouldn’t be viewed as a form of income (nor are they enough to be considered so), foster parents are afforded some financial benefits to offset extra costs associated with welcoming a youth in the foster system into their homes.

UMFS provides 10 paid respite days per child or teen. The State of Virginia provides tax-free monthly maintenance payments and an annual clothing allowance. The amount of these payments varies per youth. Youth in the foster care program are also eligible for Medicaid and free school lunches at Virginia public schools.

The Jones Know the Benefits of Being Foster Parents

Sherrika and George Jones are longtime foster and adoptive parents. They adopted Nicholas (left), Mary (center) and Cierra (back right). DJ (front middle) was their first foster placement and is now their godchild after returning to his birth mother. He and his sister, Nay, enjoy spending time with Sherrika and George.

The Jones family started growing in 2007 when Sherrika learned she couldn’t have children. Instead, they began researching alternatives and found out about UMFS and fostering to adopt. 

They first saw DJ in hospital. He was a fragile newborn “with a whole bunch of tubes in him,” according to George. Sherrika and George admitted to being overwhelmed, but stepped up to provide unconditional love. Sherrika called the opportunity a blessing. “It felt like a gift just to be able to parent,” she said.

Thanks to their care, DJ grew into a healthy teen and was reunited with his birth mother. Sherrika and George remain involved as godparents, as well as mentors. “If his mom has a problem, she knows she can call on us,” Sherrika said.

How to Become a Foster Parent



Attend an Info Session

Learn more about the unique needs of youth in treatment foster care and the support you’ll receive so you can help them. 



Pre-Service Training

Complete 25 hours of required training to prepare your family to meet the needs of children and teens in care.



Home Study & Paperwork

UMFS conducts an assessment of a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing family environment for a child.

*The whole process typically takes about 4 months.

Who Is UMFS?

UMFS is a nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive array of programs to support children, teens, and parents as they work to overcome challenges. We equip families with tools for success so they can achieve their goals. As a national leader in helping young people and families, we also proactively identify unmet social services needs and develop the necessary partnerships to address those needs.

Foster Parent Benefits and FAQ

What is foster care?
Foster care is when a child or teen goes to live with a foster family because their primary caregivers or biological family cannot care for them. The parents may be unable to provide care due to anything from financial stress to drug abuse, and they may have been reported to child welfare or the department of social services (DSS).

Foster parents provide a safe, stable, temporary home for children in foster care in order to provide the best opportunity for the children to thrive. The foster family may have additional biological children of their own or additional children in foster care. The average length of time a child spends in foster care in the U.S. is 12 months.

The goals for each child and teen in foster care vary — many return to their primary caregivers whenever possible. If returning home is not possible, the child may be adopted or seek other foster care services. At 18 or 21, the child ages out of the system and may seek other support systems to thrive as an adult. But many face homelessness and unemployment.

Learn More About Foster Care

What are the benefits of being a foster parent?
Foster parent benefits include everything from the personal growth you will experience as a human being to the training and financial support you will receive as part of the foster community.

Although you will face challenges as a foster parent, you will also reap massive rewards as you see the child or teen in your care gain more confidence and blossom.

These are the main foster parents benefits mentioned on this page:

  • You will make a difference in a child or teen’s life, while also potentially helping the youth’s birth family get through a difficult time.
  • You will form friendships in the foster parent community, no matter whether you foster one child or teen in the long term or become a foster parent to successive children or teens in foster care.
  • You will Build skills with specialized training that you may end up applying in other work contexts, such as teaching or nursing.
  • You will be a role model to a child or teen who needs your love and support, whether they have had a difficult start in life, experienced trauma, or faced another kind of challenge.
  • You will receive mentorship and financial support to make it easier for you to take care of a child or teen until you can all reach a successful outcome, whether the youth returns to their birth family or finds a permanent home with you or another family.
What are the requirements to become a foster parent?
Foster families come from all walks of life. They’re teachers, nurses, social workers, bookkeepers, chefs, and more. They are people who have realized that they have room in their homes, room in their schedules, and room in their hearts for a child in need.

Prospective foster parents need to meet these prerequisites to begin the foster parent process:

  • 21 or older
  • Stable form of income
  • Ability to pass a Child Protective Services and Criminal History Search
  • Valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Personal references
  • Physical space in your home
  • Emotional space in your life
  • Medical information

There are no specific religious requirements or restrictions to participation.

What is a typical child or teen in foster care like, and what have they been through?
Children and teens in foster care can be any age, from infant to 18. The average age of a child in foster care in the U.S. is eight. The youth in foster care represent all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are frequently part of a sibling group or teens.

When it comes to children who need therapeutic foster care, the child may have experienced financial hardship leading to malnutrition or suffered from neglect or abuse. The children may have mental health issues or may suffer from post-traumatic shock syndrome (PTSD) due to what they have experienced.

The UMFS foster care program does not accept children or teens who are currently at risk for harming themselves or others.

What training and support are available to foster parents?
There are many systems in place to help you succeed as a foster parent:

  • Thirty hours of pre-licensing training
  • Nine hours of post-licensing training
  • Local in-person and online support groups
  • 24-hour on-call support
  • Counseling
  • Reliable respite care so you can take a break and attend to your other needs
  • Financial assistance to cover all or most of the costs of adopting children from foster care and to fund their medical and mental health needs

For more information on foster parent benefits, contact us today!

UMFS has eight locations throughout the state of Virginia, spread conveniently across the Commonwealth. If you’re interested in learning what is involved to become a foster parent, we encourage you to send us an inquiry, or contact UMFS at any of these locations:

Get in Touch With UMFS

Foster Parents Benefits and Resources

Foster Parent Training Requirements

You’ll receive helpful training and resources when you take the next steps towards becoming a foster parent.

Therapeutic vs. Traditional Foster Care

You will get extra training and support if you open your home to a child or teen who needs therapeutic foster care.

How Much Do Foster Parents Get Paid?

Caring for a child or teen can be costly and that’s why there is financial support available to help with the various expenses.