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A Blog by Action for Children

How You Can Make a Difference through Fostering 


Foster care is a lifeline for many children facing difficult circumstances. Despite the uncertainty and complexities that often come with it, the opportunities to provide love, care, and a stable environment for children in delicate situations are incredibly rewarding. To ensure quality care and growth for children to reach their fullest potential in foster care placement, it’s important to understand the nuances and understand what goes into the process. 

First things first – let’s clarify what foster care is and isn’t! 
Image Credit: Action for Children

Foster care is not the same as kinship care, adoption, or having a child live in a group home, formerly known as an orphanage. Foster care and kinship care are both temporary, but kinship care involves children being placed with relatives or other individuals that the child or family already has a connection with rather than with unrelated foster parents.  

Foster care is also not the same as adoption. Adoption is permanent and happens when a child is signed into exclusive custody and will remain under that guardian until they become an adult. Foster care is intended to be a temporary transitional phase for children.  

Lastly, foster care differs from a group home because children in foster care typically still have living parents that are temporarily unable to care for their child, so the overarching goal is reunification with their guardians once families are in a more stable place. Children in a group home are often awaiting placement or do not have families who can take them in. 

In Ohio, there are currently over 16,000 children in the foster care system.

Over 25% of these children live in Action for Children’s service area, totaling about 4,200 children in foster care in Franklin County and the six surrounding counties. With so many children in need of temporary homes, there is a desperate need for qualified caregivers to take them in. However, the number of licensed foster care homes is less than half the number of children in the care system, at around 7,000. To meet this pressing need, we have to empower informed and qualified caregivers in Ohio’s foster care system who understand the nuances of being a foster parent and are willing to provide children with the kind of care they deserve. 

It is important to remember that there are many different situations that lead to a child ending up in foster care, and empathy and understanding are of the utmost importance for successful care. Parents struggling with mental illness, addiction, or other extenuating circumstances are not disqualified from being good parents — they often just need time to work through these issues with the comfort of knowing their child is in a safe, stable and loving environment in the meantime. Foster care gives these parents the time and ability to put themselves first so that they can reunite with their children and create healthy, lasting relationships. 

Because of the situations foster children often come from, they need stability and nurture rather than  someone who is trying to “fix” them.

These children go through a lot, and the relationships they build with their foster parent is critical.” says Linnae Boyer, a Family and Community Support Specialist at Action for Children who fosters children herself. “Loving children through this difficulty can help them feel grounded, secure and safe. With this sense of physical, mental and emotional safety, connection is possible, and with connection, children can thrive!”

As a foster parent or caregiver, you can provide an environment that gives them space to heal. Patience is key, and while it can be hard, sticking through these tough times can be exponentially rewarding! 

Building a healthy relationship with these children can take time, and foster parents, the idea of having to give up a child after making a connection with them can be understandably difficult. One of the best things to remember is that you are giving children the care and nurture they need to prepare them for both the next step in their journey and the rest of their lives. Whether their future holds reunification with their family or adoption into your own, that type of investment is a beautiful thing.

How to learn more… 

At Action for Children, we’re always looking for parents who want to provide nurturing environments for children through foster, kinship, or adoptive care! If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, we have many resources to make the journey as easy as possible. As outlined in our Roadmap to Foster Care Toolkit, we can help provide information on agencies, help you with eligibility requirements, and more. To connect with one of our team members about your foster care questions or needs, please call 614-224-0222 or email We’re here to partner with you! 

Action for Children will also be hosting its first Foster Care Expo in Lancaster on April 26th to help existing foster parents, as well as connect interested foster parents with relevant resources. If you’re new to fostering or curious about the process, this is a great free event to attend! 

To explore on your own, visit Action for Children’s website or

Author: Shea McHugh, Advocacy Associate at Action for Children 
Contributors: Jennifer Aquino, Linnae Boyer, and Keith Wollenberg 

Action for Children’s foster, kinship, and adoption support services are an initiative of the Ohio Department of Children and Youth and are locally supported by Action for Children. 

Action for Children is the local child care resource and referral agency for central Ohio, and is committed to assuring quality early learning experiences for all children. Our services focus on transforming the lives of children by supporting the everyday heroes who most influence our children’s early growth; care givers, educators, parents, and guardians. Learn More. 

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