Foster Care FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the children like that I/we will be working with?
Most of our referrals are youth experiencing one or more of the following challenges: delinquency, mental illness, behavioral disorders, family issues, alcohol and other drug abuse issues, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, or other challenges. The majority of the youth have not had healthy environments for many years, and struggle to adapt to a home that has different rules and expectations. At times, younger children referred to our agency generally have significant mental health and/or behavioral struggles that require more intensive care. Sibling groups are also often referred to our agency because our homes are often equipped to take on two to four placements at one time.
What is expected of myself, my home, and/or my family?
As a therapeutic foster parent, you are expected to act as a positive role model to youth in care, in addition to providing structure and supporting the youth emotionally, educationally, and socially. You are responsible for providing that youth with a sense of family while they are distanced from their own. As a result, one of our expectations for a therapeutic foster home is that there will be a parent at home at all times (occasionally exceptions can be made). Again, this is to ensure that the youth being placed will receive the highest level of support and structure possible while in care.
As a therapeutic foster parent, you will serve as a member of the treatment team, which typically includes the child's social worker, therapist(s), school personnel, and parent(s)/legal guardian(s). In most cases, we are striving to reunite the child with his/her family; therefore, the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) must be involved. When they are involved, they will have a lot of contact with you and with us (LSS). Your relationship with the birth family is to be supportive and professional; you are not expected to be their friends. You should set boundaries and enforce them, in order to maintain a professional relationship with them.
What qualifications do I/we need in order to become licensed as a therapeutic foster parent?
You must pass all background checks, have a positive home study, and have at least three of the following:
a) one year experience as a foster parent or kinship care provider (a child must have been in your home for at least one year);
b) 5 years of experience working with or parenting children;
c) a minimum of 500 hours of experience as a respite care provider for children under the supervision of a human services agency respite;
d) a high school diploma or the equivalent;
e) a college, vocational, technical or advanced degree in the area of a child's treatment needs, such as nursing, medicine, social work or psychology;
f) a substantial relationship with the child to be placed through previous professional or personal experience;
g) work or personal experience for which the applicant has demonstrated the knowledge, skill, ability and motivation to meet the needs of a child .
What is the licensing process like?
- The entire process takes approximately three to six months.
- Following the phone screen, a packet of information will either be sent to you or an agency representative will set up an appointment to meet with you. The packet will include background checks which need to be completed by all family members over the age of 10.
- The first home visit is an opportunity for LSS staff to review the information in the licensing packet, in addition to meeting yourself and your family. You are encouraged to ask questions at this visit and a walk through of your home may be done.
- State statutes require ongoing training and education while in the program. You will be required to complete 36 hours of pre-service training before a child is placed in your home, and 24 hours of training annually thereafter. Education and training will target both your needs and the needs of the child placed in your home.
- While you are completing the training, an assigned worker will be verifying information with you, and completing a Resource Family Assessment (RFA) which consists of the worker coming to the home to interview yourself, your significant other, and in most instances your children. The RFA is required and can be somewhat time consuming and intrusive.
- You will also be responsible for completing several forms (which are part of the licensing packet reviewed with you at the first meeting), and gathering numerous documents needed for the record maintained at the LSS office.
What kind of training and support are provided?
The 36 hours of pre-service training required is paid for, provided that you attend the training recommended by LSS. Thereafter, you will be supplied with information on upcoming training opportunities that will target both your needs and the needs of the child placed in your home. CPR and First-Aid are required. The minimum number of hours to be completed annually is 24; each parent must complete all 24 hours.
Your family is assigned a worker, from whom you will receive a great deal of support through home visits (no less than every other week), telephone contact, email, and treatment team meetings. The worker will assist you in identifying respite options, in addition to assisting you with training. LSS also offers a 24-hour support line.
How often can I take vacation?
In the world of foster care we call vacation "respite," and our policy is that you can take respite as needed. LSS pays for two days of respite per child, per month. Respite days cannot be transferred from one child to another or be accumulated. The respite provider is paid directly by LSS unless additional days of respite are utilized and/or other arrangements are agreed upon. All respite providers must be approved by LSS. The assigned worker will assist you with locating respite options.
We strongly encourage foster parents to take respite on a regular basis to reduce compassion fatigue and nurture the relationship. Taking respite only during times of struggle can often result in youth viewing respite as a punishment, which is not its intended purpose.
What can I/we expect for financial support for the children in my/our care?
Your income is expected to be sufficient enough for you and your family; the monthly monetary compensation is to be used to cover any expenses that may be incurred for the child. Foster parents are often paid directly from the agency that issued their license; however, they will occasionally be paid by the agency responsible for placement of the child. The rate of pay varies depending on the needs of the child.
What if the foster child damages my furniture and/or property?
During the licensing process you will be asked to have your homeowner's insurance changed so that it includes an "umbrella" liability policy. Part of your compensation is intended to cover replacement/repair costs, as well as the additional costs associated with the umbrella policy. All claims for property damage should be submitted to your insurance company. Contact your insurance agent for rates and information.
What if I/we change our minds and no longer want the child to live in the home?
A 30-day written notice must be given if a child needs to be removed from your home. (This is required per state statute.)
We work very hard not to "bounce" children around, and need adequate time to find an appropriate alternative. A support plan is developed for every child.
The IRS allows for a significant tax credit for adoption. The credit is based on your personal tax and income situation.
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Our staff has over 60 years of adoption service experience - both here and abroad. We can answer any questions you may have.