May is Foster Care Awareness Month and so the Department of Child Services is spreading the word about what's involved in being a foster parent.

I chatted last week with Therese Cahill-Low, Director of Child Services, about foster parenting and what it involves. If you think you're not eligible, you may be wrong!

C: "For those who don't know, what is a foster family?"

T: "A foster family is a family who agrees to have children come live with them who are not their biological kin and provide parenting support to the child but also reinforce support to the biological family. Foster families can also involve blood relatives, like grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, or sisters, who take on the responsibility for the child."

C:"I know some kids in foster care come out of difficult family situations. Do foster parents get some sort of training to deal with that."

T: "They do receive a level of training, but one thing we recognize is that the level of training is not completely adequate. We're looking at making some significant changes to training as well as clinical support."

C:"Who can become a foster parent? And do you have to be married?"

T: "No, you don't have to be partnered. The requirements around who can become a foster parent really rely more on the background. So we do background checks, we do fingerprinting, and we do require a home study. We want to make sure we're placing children in safe homes. And just because you may have something in your background doesn't mean that you're disqualified. It's really about what level of treatment you sought for that or where you were in your life at that point. If someone has the desire to do this work, because it is work, we're happy to bring them along and train them and provide them with the support necessary to give these kids the home they wouldn't otherwise have."

For more information on becoming a foster parent in Maine, log onto the Child services website.