Does this look familiar? Click on the comment link in any posting and leave us some feedback- we'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Common Questions about Being a Foster Parent

People will often ask about fostering and whether it is right for their situation, so here a few general answers. I will address the considerations for Christians later on.

Q:What is a foster parent?
Foster parents are adults who care for children whose birth parents cannot care for them due to illness, personal situation, or unsafe home conditions. It is the county's goal to reunite children with their parents after the initial problem has been addressed and to ensure that the conditions remain safe for the child.

Q:Do all foster children return home to birth parents?
Not all children are able to return home, and the reasons vary. Sometimes the necessary changes cannot be made. The average case-plan lasts one year, with parents possibly being granted two six month extensions. If the child is placed in permanent custody, the goal then becomes permanent placement with an adoptive family. This family is sometimes the foster family the child has been staying with. Families can be licensed to adopt at the same time they are licensed to foster, or Foster-to-Adopt homes. This prevents the child from another upheaval and trying to reacclimatize to a new home.

Q:Do we need to want to adopt if we want to foster?
No. Many children do go home to their birth families, as is the goals of the agency at the time of removal. A foster family may also decide to only provide respite, which is a temporary cover for foster parents who are going on vacation or have a family commitment. Some foster families never adopt a child, but they are instrumental in providing the care needed for children in all situations.

Q: Can we determine what ages of children we want to foster?
When a foster family completes a home study, the agency will ask for general ideas of what the family feels able to accommodate, such as only having room for girls if the foster family has girls in every bedroom. The foster family can also determine the ages of children they would like to care for, perhaps taking children closest to the ages of their own children.

Q: So what is a home study?
When someone applies to become licensed as a foster parent, a representative of the agency will come to the home and interview the family. This is a chance to get to know the family in detail and better match them to children who would fit well with the family dynamic. An overview of the foster family is listed with the other foster families, specifying the school district in which they live, the number of children they have, and their lifestyle (i.e. farming) to allow the placing worker to determine the best home for a foster child.

Q: Do foster parents get paid for their services?
Foster parents do get a daily rate to care for the kids along with a monthly clothing allowance; however, many foster parents go above and beyond what the agency allots each month. Foster Parents also do not receive income verification forms for taxes and do not accumulate Social Security eligibility. This job is more of a community service than a career, but it is a very important job. Most foster parents find their benefits in the changes they can make in their community and the life of a child.

Q:Who can become a foster parent?
The rules can vary in different counties and certainly different states, but in Ohio a person must be at least 21 with a stable income, a clear background and fingerprint check, and a passing fire inspection. It is not necessary to own a home or to be married. Foster parents will be required to complete a series of training classes before being licensed and then will need to maintain a certain number of training hours per year. These trainings often include CPR and First Aid, parenting skills, child development, and cultural awareness. In addition, foster families are very different in their personalities, religions, occupations, ages, and life experiences.

Q: How can I get a home study?
The first step is contacting the agency in your county or the county for which you would like to foster. If you do not know the number for your county but you live in Ohio, look in the phone book under Job and Family Services, or visit their website at This website also hosts the Ohio Adoption Photo Listing, where families interested in adoption can find information on children awaiting Forever Families. In other states, call your Child Welfare Department or Family Services. They are sometimes under different titles.

No comments: