“I don’t have to ask anybody anything. I think it’s better for me in terms of that,” said William Presswood in an interview with NBC 6 Miami. Presswood is a high school teacher by day and foster/adoptive father by night, who has cared for more than 100 children and adopted five boys.
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Presswood represents a growing number of single men who are dipping into parenthood for the first time – on their own terms. According to NBC 6, 3% of foster-adoptive parents are single men, a number that’s tripled in the last 15 years. States are acknowledging the importance of men in children’s lives not only in child and custody hearings in divorce court but also in terms of agency placements.
How Many Foster Homes Are Needed?
According to ChildrensRights.org, 690,000 children spent time in a foster home in 2017. The average age? Just 8 years old. Most children spend roughly 2 years in state care while state officials attempt to remediate problems at home, but after 18 months, many agencies change their focus to adoption. These systems are fraught with their own problems, but there is no question more foster homes are needed. Some states, like Ohio, are experiencing an extreme deficit of homes, with children being housed in juvenile facilities, group homes, even psych wards while agencies search for more appropriate housing.
Each year, tens of thousands of foster children age out of the system without any safety net to catch them. In two years, half are unemployed, 40% are homeless and 84% are parents.
Having a reliable father figure involved in their lives helps reduce those risks. Fortunately, state programs have made single parenting an affordable prospect for those who feel able to provide loving homes to children placed in state care.
Stipends for Foster and Adoptive Homes
The sad truth is many more foster children would go live in facilities if foster and adoptive parents weren’t paid to take care of them. Raising kids is expensive, and many of the children in the foster program have additional needs that are expensive to meet.
Depending on the state, the base rate for foster care runs from $400 – $1000 per month per child. When a child is diagnosed with special needs, the government ups the ante to cover the costs. In addition to monthly payments, foster parents often receive food assistance, medical care, respite care and help with transportation.
When it comes time to adopt, foster parents have access to special funding as well. It’s common for adoptions to cost nothing. Children with disabilities continue to receive stipends as well, sometimes past the age of 18. Resources are available for men who want to be single dads by fostering or adopting foster children.
While these programs allow parents to provide for a child’s special needs, the payments have also encouraged the wrong people to foster for the wrong reasons. Agencies thoroughly vet potential foster families in the hopes of keeping children safe, but being single – even as a man – is not a disqualifier. For good reason. For some children, a dad is exactly what’s needed.
“I actually wanted a father figure,” said Fabian Presswood, 15, William’s youngest son to NBC 6. “I never had a father.”
Foster and foster-adoption provide single men with new family roles. For those who feel compelled to provide a home to children in need, it’s an especially rewarding – albeit challenging – route to parenting. For more information, contact your state’s Department of Human Services.