Foster parents need to develop for the child a ‘family-like environment’ (Department of Children and Family Services, Foster Parenting 2012), ensuring that the vital needs of the child, in terms of food, clothing, health and education, are fully covered. Foster parents also need to support the personal development and growth of the child (Department of Children and Family Services, Foster Parenting 2012). It should be noted that foster parents do not have parental rights, at least not at the same level as the birth parents; for this reason, foster parents need to cooperate with the local authorities and the birth parents for identifying the needs of the child in terms of daily care. The above rules are common in foster parenting schemes developed across USA. In Louisiana, authorities have focused on the support of foster parents so that the care provided to the children, in the context of foster parenting, to be as appropriate as possible.
In 2003, the number of children in foster care in Louisiana has been estimated to 4,541 (Foster Care Month Organization 2005). Among those children, 53 are male, while the average age of children in foster care is 10 years (Foster Care Month Organization 2005). As of September of 2003, the average period that a foster child stays in a foster family has been estimated to 29 months, which can be characterized as rather long (Foster Care Month Organization 2005). In 2004, the number of certified foster homes in Louisiana was estimated to 2,822 (Foster Care Month Organization 2005).
In order for a family to provide foster care, it has to ask for a foster care certification. The requirements of this certification are the following ones: a) provision of information to foster family in regard to the needs and the demands of the program, b) the submission of a relevant application, c) fingerprints are provided by all members of the foster family, meaning those members who are