Frequently Asked Questions about Foster Care
What is foster care?
Foster care is the temporary placement of children and youth outside of their own homes. It happens due to abuse, neglect, or other family problems.
What types of foster homes are needed most?
We especially need foster parents that will open their homes and meet the needs of:
How long are children and youth in foster care?
The length of time in foster care can range from overnight to months, and in some cases several years. Every effort is made to reunify children and youth with their parents or they may leave foster care to be placed with relatives. The time spent in foster care is dependent upon the parent's situation and their ability to engage in services to keep the children or youth safe so that they can be reunited.
Is there a limit to how many children or youth that I can foster?
State rules allow up to 4 children or youth from foster care to be placed in a foster home and no more than 8 total children, including your own children. Consideration for the number that can be placed in the home, includes space requirements for each child or youth, the preference of the foster family and the home study evaluator’s recommendation.
Are foster parents paid to care for children and youth placed in their homes?
Foster parents receive monthly reimbursement to offset the costs of care such as food, shelter, clothing and other related expenses. The rate varies and may depend upon the age and level of need for the child or youth. Medical and dental expenses are generally covered by Medicaid. The foster parent is not expected to pay for medical or dental care.
Can foster parents adopt a child or youth in their care?
Yes, however, most children and youth are reunited with their birth families or extended family members whenever possible. If this is not possible, children and youth may benefit by being adopted by their foster parents when they have become attached and built a relationship.
If you are interested in having a child or youth become part of your family permanently, you are encouraged to pursue adoption directly. Please be aware that the children and youth who are free for adoption are generally 9 years or older.
Who are the children and youth in foster care?
Children and youth in foster care come from diverse ethnic and cultural populations and are generally birth to 18 years of age (sometimes youth stay longer than age 18). They may have special medical, physical, developmental, psychological, and emotional needs, low self-esteem, poor hygiene or poor academic performance. The child or youth may belong to a sibling group or be an only child. The majority of children and youth enter care due to abuse, neglect or other family problems.
Who can be a foster parent?
Applicants must be able to use sound judgment like a prudent parent and demonstrate a responsible, stable and emotionally mature lifestyle. Couples with both partners working outside the home may also be considered for foster parenting.
What is a foster parent’s role?
Foster parents provide a safe and stable home and the care needed to meet the physical, emotional, and social needs of children/youth placed in the foster home, while the parents address their safety and treatment issues. The intent is to safely reunify children/youth with their families. Foster parents are expected to work closely with the county department of human/social services with legal custody, the Guardian Ad Litem, the parents when possible and other service providers.
How are children and youth placed into a family foster care home?
Ideally, placements are made with foster families based upon compatibility of the needs of the child or youth and the skills, resources and location, etc. of the foster parent. Human services strive to place children/youth in proximity to the parent’s home to encourage frequent visitation and involvement. The stability of the educational placement is also important. Human services tries to maintain the children/youth in the same school or school district or encourage educational stability.
What about contact with the birth families?
We encourage contact between foster parents and parents based upon the treatment team’s recommendation. Sometimes “Icebreaker Meetings” are scheduled at the beginning of placement. This allows the foster parents and parents to meet and focus on the needs of the child or youth to help with the transition into the foster home. Topics may include foods they like/dislike, interests, routines, and other important information that will reduce the trauma and discomfort for the child or youth.
Contact with the birth family can reduce anxiety and reduce loyalty issues for children and youth. There are many levels of contact, which may include: