Foster Parenting

How to Be a Foster Mom

Become informed about foster care in your area. Talk to families in your area who foster children and ask for their input and advice. Research state laws and guidelines for foster parents. Consider if you are willing to welcome a child, or children, into your life and home. Contact a local child-placing agency, or your state's Social Services Department to see if a foster parent orientation program is available near you.

Meet all the basic requirements. While each state sets its own requirements, foster moms are typically required to be at least 21 years old, financially independent, have a stable family, have room in the house for foster children, with a bed for each child, and be willing to undergo home inspections and background screenings.

Contact a local or state agency. The Child Welfare Information Gateway maintains a list of each state's foster care agency. Most states allow local private and public agencies to license foster parents in the state. Select an agency to contact and discuss their foster parent application and licensing process.

Complete all training and licensing requirements. Once you have selected an agency, most states require pre-service training to prepare you for becoming a foster mom. Other requirements, including a home study, a criminal background check and home safety inspection must also be completed before foster children can be placed in your home. Your agency should provide you with a detailed lists of your state's requirements and help you complete the process.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Sacramento

Fill out a prospective foster family application from the Sacramento County Child Protective Services Department. You can qualify for foster parenting directly through the county.

Select an agency to work with. Sacramento uses individual, non-profit fostering agencies to find homes for children. Through these agencies, you are qualified, certified, trained and given support as a foster parent.

Submit to a criminal background check. Whether you are working directly with the state or with an agency, this background check is mandatory for all who are 18 and over and living in your home. There are fees for this.

Prepare to meet with a foster care social worker who determines if your living conditions meet the qualifications. No more than two people are allowed to sleep in each bedroom, including the foster child in that number. Other conditions will be discussed, and if your home is deficient in any way, you have time to make the necessary changes.

Attend first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training. You must be certified in CPR to qualify as a foster parent. Some foster care agencies reimburse the fees for this course.

Enroll in the state’s or the agency’s Adoptive Parent Training program. Most sessions are held as two six-hour sessions and are given on the weekends or evenings to accommodate working schedules.

Submit to a family interview with a social worker. The dynamics of your family are studied and each family member has an opportunity to discuss foster parenting individually with the social worker.

Make copies of your Social Security cards and automobile insurance, which will become part of your application. Also provide driving records for anyone in your family holding a driver’s license.

Obtain three references, of which two must be from friends who have known you for more than one year.

Take and pass a health screening.

Submit payment stubs to verify income. If adult family members work outside the home during child-caring hours, provisions for child care must be made and approved by the state or agency.

Tip

Do not be dismayed by the process. It is in-depth and for the benefit of the child.

How to Write a Thank You Letter to a Foster Mom

Open the letter with a personal salutation, addressing your foster mom with whatever title you call her. For example, if you simply call your foster mom, “mom,” write “Dear Mom.” If you call your foster mom by her first name, write “Dear Linda.”

Begin the letter with a brief paragraph that expresses how much you appreciate her help while you were in her care. You might write, “I’ve been thinking about everything you did for me over the years. You were always there for me, Mom, and I want to thank you for your love and concern.”

Write a paragraph or two that touches on specific events or things your foster mom did for which you are thankful. For example, if your foster mom helped you through high school and always went to your track meets, mention this specifically in your letter. You might write, “Whenever I needed you during high school, you were there for me. You helped me with my English homework and got me through chemistry. I could always count on you sitting in the stands and cheering me on while I ran the 100-meter dash at track meets. Thanks for waiting up for me when I was out to make sure I got home safely.”

Mention how your foster mom’s love and support helped shape you into who you are. For example, you might write, “Your unfailing love and encouragement gave me the strength to keep going even when life was difficult. Thanks to your support, I made it through high school and next semester I plan to graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering.”

Close the letter with a final sentence about keeping in touch, if applicable, and sign your name. Add your phone number and email address if you wish. For example, you might write, “I hope it’s OK to send you an invitation to my graduation ceremony. It would mean so much to me to have you there. Thanks again for everything. Love, Ramona.”

Enclose the letter in an envelope and mail it.

How to Adopt My Sister's Child

Contact the local child protective agency that is caring for your sister's child. Apply to be the child's foster placement. They usually prefer to place a child with relatives rather than unrelated caregivers for foster care.

Comply with your state's requirements to become a foster parent. Some states require you to complete drug testing and a home study before receiving custody of your sister's child. In Kentucky, for example, relative foster parents must meet the same requirements as non-relative caregivers. You may need to foster-parent your niece or nephew.

Prepare yourself emotionally for the change in family dynamics that kinship adoption brings. Family relationships change. You will no longer be aunt or uncle, but parent. Extended family may not approve of the adoption. Your sister may not be emotionally ready to see her child as your legal dependent and she may feel betrayed or incredibly grateful. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your sister, if possible. You may benefit from family counselling.

File a petition to adopt your niece or nephew after your sister has voluntarily relinquished her parental rights or the juvenile court system has terminated her rights. Depending on your state requirements, you may need to undergo an additional home study to ensure your home will be appropriate. In some states the requirements to adopt your sister's child are more stringent than kinship fostering.

Tip

If your sister's child is not in protective custody and she agrees to relinquish her parental rights, contact an adoption attorney. An attorney can file the paperwork to terminate your sister's parental rights and finalise your adoption.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Tampa, Florida

Meet all prerequisite requirements. Basic requirements for foster families in Tampa include being in good overall health, being over the age of 21, having adequate space for sleeping, vaccinating all pets regularly and passing criminal background checks. Families choosing to foster children must also agree to a nonphysical discipline plan, a home heath inspection and 30 hours of pre-service training and 12 training hours annually.

Contact the local foster care agency. While Florida's Department of Children and Families oversees the foster care program, local agencies, such as Hillsborough Kids, Inc., in the Tampa area provide foster care services to foster parents and children. Foster parents are encouraged to call Hillsborough Kids, Inc. at 813-643-5437 to ask any foster care questions, learn basic foster care information and schedule an orientation meeting.

Attend orientation and pre-service training. Foster parent orientations are held several times throughout each month in the Tampa area and provide potential foster parents with more in-depth information about foster parent requirements. Pre-service training is a 30 hour course for new foster parents which provides a opportunity for them to learn skills for raising foster children, discuss foster care challenges and learn about the state and local foster care rules.

Complete a home study. Required as part of the pre-service training, a home study is an extensive interview process that takes around two months to complete, according to Hillsborough Kids, Inc. The home study helps ensure that families are ready to become foster parents and that the home meets all foster care licensing requirements.

Obtain a license to provide foster care. After meeting all of the requirements, a request for a foster care license is sent to the state and a foster care license is issued. The license is good for one year and allows Tampa families to begin the process of being matched with a foster child. The license can be renewed annually, after the completion of 12 in-service training hours.

How to Be a Foster Parent in Missouri

Contact your local Missouri Department of Social Services office and indicate your interest in becoming a foster parent. Health services will provide you with a time and location for an orientation session.

Attend the orientation to learn more information about the foster-care process and the subsequent steps. You will gain important information about the foster-care system and potential foster children. Take notes of important information and do not hesitate to ask questions if any arise.

Obtain a foster-parent-license application from the Missouri Department of Social Services if you are still interested in becoming a foster parent. Fill out the application to indicate your personal information, criminal history and income.

Indicate all income sources, as the license requires a steady income, a suitable home, lack of criminal history and good physical and mental health. There is no marriage requirement, but if you are legally separated, the separation from your spouse must be for 12 months or more. Additionally, you must be 21 years of age or older.

Attend up to 10 separate training sessions after orientation to become more acquainted with the process. These sessions will build the relationship between you and the agency. These sessions are also valuable times to ask any questions you may have or any that may come up. It will also help you to determine whether being a foster parent is something that you are suitable for.

Expect a visit and interview from a caseworker from the agency. She handles your case among others, and she will help you with filling out the proper documents and will go over them with you.

Discuss with the caseworker your reasons for wanting to become a Missouri foster parent and describe the relationship you have with your family. She will also inspect your home to determine whether it is a safe and suitable environment for foster children.

Expect the process to take a few weeks to a few months to complete. You will receive a written assessment of your background and history information along with your home inspection.

Contact other foster parents and discuss the trials of being a foster parent as you wait for approval of your application. Speak with Missouri Department of Social Services at any time during the process if you have any questions or concerns.

Assistance for Foster Parents

Pre-Placement Training

Many states provide and require training for foster parents prior to placing a child in the home. Your state may require you to complete this training to become a foster parent. The training prepares the prospective parent for emotional or behavioral issues that may arise when the child arrives. The training helps smooth the transition for all parties involved, as well as answers questions or concerns.

Financial Assistance

Every state provides financial assistance for foster parents. Bringing another child into the home adds costs, such as food, health care and education. All states also require you to prove that you can meet the needs of your existing family without this added financial support. This helps prevent abuse of the foster care system, such people fostering children simply for the extra money.

Types

The state pays foster parents a daily rate for each foster child in their care. The resulting funds should cover: food; shelter; laundry expenses; personal items such as toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary needs, hair cuts/styling, as well as activities with the family. The state usually provides health care coverage, and foster children are eligible for lunch programs at school.

Support Groups

Foster parents may want to consider joining a support group for advice and shared experiences. Online resources, such as the Daily Strength Foster Care Support group, exist specifically for foster parents. If you prefer more face to face interaction, find reputable support groups through the county or state foster agency, local churches or nonprofit adoptive agencies.

Considerations

No matter how much assistance you receive from the state, consider all the people involved in the situation. Be aware that even though you researched, prepared and trained, the child simply may not be a good fit for the family, or vice versa.

The Requirements to Become Foster Parents in Wisconsin

Requirements

To become a foster parent in Wisconsin you must be at least 21 years of age and a responsible adult. Foster parents differ widely in age, economic background, relationship status and employment. Some have children of their own and others do not. In order to be licensed as a foster parent the potential foster parents must disclose information about their backgrounds, legal violations and drug or alcohol abuse. The prospective foster parents then meet with a licensing specialist who will help to determine whether the applicants' home is safe for children and assist the applicants in the licensing process.

Resources

Once a person is approved as a foster parent, she will attend a foster care program orientation and receive parenting training. If the foster parent will be caring for special needs children, she will receive training specific for this. Support for foster families and children varies by county. Many counties provide additional training, as well as ongoing support groups. Child services staff members are available to assist foster parents with questions and concerns. There is also a 24-hour emergency phone line available to all Wisconsin foster parents.

Foster Children

The foster parents and the child's case manager decide whether a child should be placed in the home. A foster child might remain with his foster parents for a few weeks or for several, depending on circumstances. Most foster children will only be in foster care about three months. Though most foster children are not available for adoption, the foster parents are given the opportunity to apply to adopt the child if the child comes up for adoption. In such cases, most Wisconsin foster children have been adopted by their foster families.