We know that becoming a foster parent is a big decision. Below you will find the answers to some commonly asked questions. Please know that some policies and procedures vary by the state in which you are fostering. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, please CONTACT US.
What are the qualifications for being a Foster Parent?
Foster parents must be willing to care for children and teenagers by providing them with emotional support and stability as well as meeting physical needs. They must also be a legal resident of the state in which they’d like to foster or adopt. Also, they must be at least 21 years of age (or older, depending on the state), complete a comprehensive Pre-Service Training Program, have a dependable automobile with proof of liability insurance, have a viable source of income, comply with a criminal background check (including child services checks and sex offender checks) and fingerprinting, comply with a home study, and be able to provide a safe living environment. Foster/adoptive parents can be single or married and same-sex couples are welcome. We are in need of families willing to take sibling groups.
What is a home study?
A home study consists of interviews with all family members and looks at your relationships, your supports, your history, your parenting style, and the physical space where the children placed with you will be living.
The interviews – which are designed to help us get to know you, your history and your reasons for wanting to do foster care –help us assess if you will be a good match for the children in our program. It also serves as a forum for you to make informed decisions about whether foster care is the right choice for you.
The other part of this process involves a member of our foster care team coming in and looking at your home to see where the child will be living and assessing the safety of the home and neighborhood.
What else is involved in the process of becoming a foster parent?
Foster parents go through an extensive screening and training process, including background checks and fingerprinting. Also, potential families go through different curricula depending on their state of residence. This is designed to educate families about children in “the system” and teach you how to understand and help them deal with the issues they may face. Foster parents also receive additional training on dealing with the more specialized issues that children in foster care could face, including trauma-informed care. Training can be done in a variety of formats, depending on the state you are in.
What about the children in the program? Do you serve only teenagers?
The youth in Foster Care Select homes range in age from 0-18. We also have some teens who meet the criteria to remain in our care until they are 21. The majority of our children come in sibling groups, but we do still have the need to be able to place single youth as well.
Children come to us for a variety of reasons. Most have been abused or neglected, and that trauma can lead to behavioral issues. Our supervisors and case managers will help you work with them to deal with those issues. Many children have the goal of being reunited with their birth families and will be in your home while working on that relationship. Others will be working toward independent living skills and preparing to enter the world as a young adult. Sometimes, the goal will change to adoption, and foster parents who have hosted the children for some time have priority to adopt.
What if I am not ready, willing, or able to be a foster parent? Are there other ways that I can help and be involved? Can I be a mentor or provide some other type of service?
Apprehension about becoming a foster family is a very normal feeling. It’s good to take the responsibility seriously and realize that it is a big commitment.
A great way to support foster families and children is to become licensed to provide respite care. This is temporary, short-term care for children (10 days or less) and is needed when a child’s foster family has an emergency, becomes ill, or genuinely just needs a break. Respite parents have to be trained and screened just as foster/adoptive parents do, but the commitment is not as great because the children are only with you for short periods of time.
Can single people be foster parents?
Absolutely. The most important requirement is that you are able to provide the supervision that the child/children placed in your home need. Children in foster care have very specific requirements in regards to supervision, so as long as those needs are met, being a single parent does not pose a problem at all.
Is there financial help available?
Foster families are reimbursed for most of the expenses they incur for the children in their home through a daily per diem. Rates are based on the child’s level of need and the supervision required, as well as their age in some states, and the per diem serves as reimbursement, not income.
Additional reimbursements are sometimes also available. In some states, each child receives a yearly personal allowance of $300 and special occasion allowances of $50 toward birthday and Christmas presents.
What other support is available?
Before you ever have a child in your home, you will go through extensive training. After you are on board, you will continue to receive ongoing education. These are chances for you to connect with other foster families and keep learning about how to better help the children in your care. We also link families to support groups and sponsor foster parent events so they can continue connecting with support.
Therapeutic services are at the core of our program. All eligible children have case management services and ages 14 and up receive life and independent living skills training. A Foster Care Coordinator or Family Support Specialist is assigned to each family to answer day to day questions, in addition to a case manager who conducts in-home visits, identifies and coordinates services and supports the family in meetings and crisis. All foster/adoptive families have access to our staff 24/7 for emergencies. Our Supervisors are Master’s level staff with decades of experience working in foster care. Case Managers meet with children on a regular basis to ensure they get the services they need and to assist you in dealing with any issues that arise. The children may also have a therapist, medication provider or other specialists through Centerstone or another agency that they meet with regularly. We will help you connect to these services. We will also schedule Respite for you when needed.
If you are interested in providing a foster home, or if you have more questions, please CONTACT US.