Becoming a foster parent

Parents with teenage kids

Sometimes trying something new just takes a gentle shove from a friend, loved one, or a complete stranger.

Here's something that may be calling your name ... you just might not know it yet.

"It's something I've always wanted to do. It's very taxing. It takes a lot of patience. I have no regrets." Ron Fink said.

Ron Fink has a daily routine at his house. That routine can be shaken up and changed at anytime. Ron has been a foster parent for almost eight years.

"When I'm working with these kids, I don't look at it as making changes to their lives, but planting seeds for them to know something different," Fink said.

Ron has fostered more than a dozen kids, some of whom he still keeps in contact with. Currently he has two foster sons.

"You have to put in the time and have patience with them. I enjoy working with the kids. I like to spend time with them every evening. Just some quiet time with each kid," Fink said.

Ron says being a foster parent isn't for everyone, but if it's something you'd like to try, you should go for. All it costs is your time.

"Kids are coming in all the time. We don't know when they're going to come in, but they are coming in all the time," Shirley Wingerter, a Licensing Manager with Chaddock said.

Wingerter says there is always a need for foster parents. Here's what you need to become one.

"Love, patience, and a real want to attitude," Wingerter said.

There are other official requirements, too. You have to be at least 21. You can be single or married. You will be fingerprinted, an extensive background check is run, and you have to be trained.

"Training is called Foster Pride Training. It's offered and put on by the state. It's 27 hours of class time," Wingerter said.

The training is free and is done by a DCFS worker and a current foster parent. If you're interested in giving some of your time, you can call Chaddock in Quincy or check your area for foster programs.

As for that daily routine of Ron Finks', he doesn't mind if his life is turned a little upside down for awhile because he knows the children he brings into their home have it far more rough than he does. He says he enjoys foster parenting, and loves ... "Just to see the kid happy. I like to see a kid smile," Fink said.

You can also sign up to be a respite foster parent.

Respite parents give foster parents a break.

It can be overnight, a weekend, or a couple of weeks.

You do still have to be fully trained to be a respite foster parent.