BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is the full-time, though temporary, care of children until their parent(s) can resume their responsibility; or if necessary until a permanent (adoptive) home can be found for them, which may be with their foster care provider.
Who are the Children in Need of Foster Care?
Miami County Children’s Services takes legal custody when children, for various reasons, are unable to remain in their homes. Some of the reasons that children are separated from their parents include physical or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, incarceration of a parent, physical or mental illness of a parent, death of parent(s) or the child’s own emotional or behavioral needs.
The children are of every age, race, nationality and religion. Primarily the children that come into our custody are from ages 6-18. Some have brothers and sisters that need foster care also and we attempt to keep sibling groups together. All the children need extra attention or specialized care because of physical and/or mental disabilities, language difficulties, and emotional and/or behavioral problems that resulted from the traumas they have experienced.
What do Foster Parents do?
The obvious answer to this question is that they love, nurture and care for the children placed in their care. However, there is a great deal more involved with foster care. Sometimes foster parents need to arrange and accompany children to medical, dental or therapy appointments. Foster parents transport children to visitations with birth family members. The agency may rely on the foster parents to play an advocacy role for the child at school or to work with the child to prepare him/her for returning home. Foster parents provide a positive (non-physical) form of structure and discipline that is fair and appropriate.
The bottom line is that foster parents are an important part of a treatment team that consists of social workers, therapists, juvenile court personnel, and in many instances the birth families.
What are the Requirements?
Individuals interested in foster care must be 21 years of age and have sufficient income to meet their own basic needs. Prospective foster parents must be in good physical, emotional and mental health. Foster parents can be single or part of a couple that that have had a stable relationship for at least one year. There are no educational or religious requirements and home ownership is not a requirement.
Is there Help for Foster Parents?
Our agency offers a wide range of supportive and financial services. No salary is given. A daily board rate is paid as a reimbursement of expenses and is allocated based on age and need of the child. Medical, dental and therapy expenses are covered. Ongoing trainings and a foster parent association are provided to offer assistance to foster families. In case of an emergency a staff on-call worker can be notified through 911.
Individuals interested in foster care are required to complete the foster care application and to undergo a fingerprinting criminal background check. Each member of your home over age 18 must be fingerprinted. After the application and fingerprinting has been done a mandatory pre-service training must be attended by applicants.
At these training sessions, more detailed information is given about fostering and the needs of children that are placed in foster homes. The pre-service training is offered on Saturday mornings through our agency. If Saturday’s do not work for you other training times will be explored. We want to make this process as accessible as possible for you.
Steps to Family Foster Care
1. The Application
This process is critical to begin the foster licensing process. Applications must be filled out accurately and completely along with other paperwork that you are given. A preliminary interview will occur when the application is returned. When your application is returned you will undergo fingerprinting as part of a mandatory background check. WE CANNOT BEGIN THE HOME STUDY AND TRAINING PROCESS UNLESS AN APPLICATION AND BACKGROUND CHECK ARE COMPLETED AND APPROVED.
2. Pre-Service Training
Training consists of 24 hours, divided into 3-hour sessions. NO CHILDREN ALLOWED DUE TO SENSITIVITY OF CONTENT. Individuals and their spouse or live-in mate must attend training in its entirety and meet all requirements in order for the home to be approved. CPR and First Aid is also required as a part of the licensing process and is paid for by applicants and reimbursed by the agency only after approval for licensing.
Topics covered may include, but are not limited to:
• Overview of Foster Care and Adoption
• Family Systems of Abuse and Neglect
• Impact of Abuse and Neglect on Child Development
• Attachment, Separation and Placement
• Cultural Issues in Placement
• Sexual Abuse
• Effects of Care Giving on the Family
• Permanency Issues for Children and Families
3.The Home Study
This process will take place in your home and includes 3 to 6 visits which can begin while you are finishing pre-service training. A Licensing Specialist will come to your home and check safety requirements in addition to working with your family to understand requirements and identify the expectations, needs and strengths your family has. There is not a cost for the home study process when completed as a part of the licensing process for foster care or adoption through Miami County Children’s Services.
4. The Approval
If the home study is successful and complete and other requirements have been met, your family can be approved to be licensed as a family foster home. Time frames for placement will vary.
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BECOMING AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is the permanent, legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from one family to another family. Adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children are born to them. It is the first step to a life long commitment of sharing your life with a child.
Who Needs an Adoptive Home?
Each year in Miami County, there are many children waiting for adoptive homes. Many of these children are considered “special needs” because of age, medical needs, emotional problems, intellectual delays or membership in a sibling group. Most of the children available for adoption are currently living in foster homes. The important thing to remember is that they are children and their real “special need” is to have a family.
What Are The Requirements?
Individuals interested in adoption must be at least 18 years of age, have sufficient income to meet their own basic needs, be in good physical, emotional and mental health and be open to the current philosophies and research regarding adoption. You can be single, married, divorced or a co-parent and adopt. In cases of co-parenting only one applicant can be considered the legal adoptive parent.
Married applicants must have been married for at least one year prior to adopting and must show documentation of marriage or divorce during the home study process. There are no educational or religious requirements and home ownership is not a requirement.
Is There Help to Adopt?
Assistance may be available for families adopting children with special needs because of age, minority group status, handicaps, intellectual or emotional delays, medical needs or membership in a sibling group. Adoption assistance is discussed in more detail at pre-service training and qualifying factors are pre-determined by guidelines from the government. Assistance toward non-recurring costs such as legal fees may also be available.
Steps to Family Adoption
1. Pre – Service Training
Training consists of 24 hours, divided into 3-hour sessions. NO CHILDREN ALLOWED DUE TO SENSITIVITY OF CONTENT. Spouses must attend training in order for the home to be approved in addition to meeting all home study requirements. Individuals co-parenting, only one parent can legally adopt. Everyone living in the home must be a part of the home study process and everyone over age eighteen (18) must be fingerprinted.
2. The Application
This process is critical to starting the adoptive process. Applications must be filled out accurately and completely along with any other paperwork that you are given. A preliminary interview will occur when the application is turned in. When your application is turned in you will undergo fingerprinting as part of a mandatory background check. WE CANNOT BEGIN THE HOME STUDY PROCESS UNLESS AN APPLICATION AND BACKGROUND CHECK ARE COMPLETED AND APPROVED!
3. The Home Study
This process will take place in your home and will generally be 4 or 5 visits and can begin while you are finishing pre-service training. An Adoption Assessor will come to your home and check safety requirements in addition to working with your family to understand and oversee requirements, while identifying the expectations, needs and strengths of your family. There are no fees for the home study – home studies will be completed only with individuals desiring to adopt a child with “special needs”. CPR and First Aid fees will be reimbursed only after an approved home study.
If the home study is successful and complete, your family can be approved to be considered as a potential adoptive family and the search for appropriate children will begin. Time frames for an adoptive placement vary.
5. Staffing Process
A Matching committee will meet to discuss the current and future needs of the children in need of placement. One or more families will be identified to determine which family would best meet the needs of the child(ren). The family that appears best suited to meet those needs on a lifelong basis will be selected as the potential match for the child(ren).
The potential family selected is brought to the agency to meet with the matching committee to share information and see pictures of the child(ren) being presented to the family. The family is given the opportunity to take the information home and to think about their decision and to discuss it privately with each other and with family members.
7. Pre – Placement Visits
Agency staff will coordinate a visit for the child and prospective adoptive family to meet. If the process proceeds, a schedule is prepared for future visits that meet the needs of the child.
8. Pre – Finalization
The big day comes when the child(ren) move into the home of the new family. Social workers can visit weekly to support the move and help with the relationships that are forming and also to offer assistance and services. There is a six month waiting period required before finalization can occur.
The family, along with their attorney, meets with the Judge, the child(ren) and his/her social worker to discuss the adoption and its meaning for the child(ren) and the family. If all are in agreement, the adoption is finalized in Probate Court.
10. Post – Finalization
Even after an adoption is finalized, the adoptive family is encouraged to utilize the agency’s services such as training, support groups and referrals to community agencies.
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TEN REASONS TO ADOPT A TEEN!
1. No diapers to change.
2. We sleep through the night.
3. We will be ready to move out sooner... but we can still visit.
4. You don’t just get a child, you get a friend.
5. We will keep you up to date with the latest fashion.
6. No more carpools, we can drive you places.
7. No bottles, formula or burp rags required.
8. We can help you around the house.
9. We can learn from you.
10. We can teach you how to run your computer.
“Concept: Oklahoma Youth Advisory Board – 2000”
"Today our young people just sort of fall through the cracks when they transition out of our foster care programs. They often lack basic support and the resouces to begin to live independently. If these young people could receive just a small amount of assistance, the outcome could be postively impacted."
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QUIZ: AM I READY?
Am I Ready To Become A Foster/Adoptive Parent?