Everyday there are thousands of children who are waiting for a foster home able to accept them. If you feel that you are ready to become a foster parent and accept a child into your home, you may be surprised to find that the process of becoming a foster parent is fairly simple. Foster parents can play a crucial and much needed role in helping heal a family; they also play an important role in protecting children who may get caught in the crossfire of problems. While becoming a foster parent is generally the same throughout the nation, some states have specific rules that apply. Check with your state’s division that handles foster parent licenses for specific requirements to become a foster parent in your area.
These are some of the basics regarding becoming a foster parent:
Make a Phone Call
Call your state division that handles foster parent licensing. They will then send you the information you needed to get started. In most states, either your state or county’s Department of Social or Human Services will have an information link on their website for prospective foster parents. Many state agencies will also mail you the packet of information along with the application after you have filled out the requested information.
Attend a Foster Parent Orientation
Many states will allow you to schedule an orientation before you receive your packet of information; however, you can wait until after you receive your packet, too. You can also register on-line for an orientation. At the orientation, child welfare professionals will give you an overview of foster care and answer any questions you may have.
Complete the Foster Parenting Application
At the end of the orientation, you may be given an application to fill out. You will need to return the completed application to your foster care agency. Once the applicable social workers have reviewed it and are satisfied that the basic elements are in place, they will contact you to begin a home study.
Complete a Home Study
The home study will provide the Department of Human Services, or a similar agency, and the courts with comprehensive information needed to place children in your care. It is important to know that you and your social worker will meet several times during the process.
You will need to submit various documents including copies of your birth certificate(s), marriage license (if applicable), income tax returns and medical reports completed by your physician. All adults in your home will need to be fingerprinted and cleared through the State Central Registry for Abuse and Neglect. It is important to be patient since a foster care home study can several months.
Complete the Foster Parent Training Series
While the home study is underway, you will need to attend an 8-10 week Model Approach to Parenting Preparation (MAPP) training. Through MAPP you can improve your parenting skills and assess your own strengths as a foster parent. You will also learn how to work with birth parents and how to help children adjust to their temporary home. In addition, you will also learn about the subsidies you will receive for the care of the child and you will find out about your rights and responsibilities as a foster caregiver.
Become a Licensed Foster Parent
Upon the successful completion of your home study and training, you can become a licensed foster parent. This means that you are now able to care for foster children in your home.
A Child is Placed in Your Home
Once licensed, you will begin receiving calls from your agency to place children in your home. If the match is a fit, the child (or children) will come to stay with you on either a short-term or longer-term basis. Before a child is placed in your home, you will be given information by your caseworker who will tell you about visitation schedules with birth parents and siblings, and will give you information that will help you provide the best care for the child.