By Daily Journal Editorial Board

There’s really just one requirement for someone to become a foster parent — love.

There are children who desperately need the love you have to share and the care you can provide.

That need is in the spotlight this month as May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month.

But to be fair, there are other boxes that need to be checked before one can take on the important responsibility of becoming a foster parent.

It’s a process that can take up to six months. Prospective foster families are required to:

• Participate in a social assessment and home inspection;

• Complete a 27-hour training on foster care and the needs of children who are in foster care;

• Complete a criminal background check of all household members;

• Be financially stable; and

• Complete a health screening.

Ultimately, it’s simply about having the means to show up for a child in his or her hour of need. And that time is now for many.

Every year, thousands of foster families across Illinois provide a temporary safe haven for children who have been placed in Department of Children & Family Services’ care by local courts.

DCFS strives to reunite children with their birth families, and nearly half of all foster children are reunified with their families within 12 months.

When reunification simply is not possible, as determined by the courts, many foster families choose to adopt the children they have cared for.

And, if you’re single, don’t let the terminology “foster family” derail you.

Families come in all shapes and sizes.

Foster parents must be at least 21 years old and can be married, in a civil union, single, divorced or separated.

They can work full- or part-time, go to school or be a stay-at-home parent; and rent or own their own home.

Fostering is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

There are many types of foster care, including traditional care, emergency/shelter care, medical/therapeutic care, relative/kinship care, respite/short-term care and tribal care.

Think you have the heart for this responsibility? If you do, your help is so desperately needed.

To learn more about becoming a licensed foster parent, fill out the online interest form on the DCFS website at www2.illinois.gov/dcfs.

Click on Loving Homes, then click on Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent.