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Fostering FAQ

Father and Mother with daughter on a hike

Can a single person be a foster parent?

Yes. We have a number of single people who are excellent foster parents.

Is there an upper age limit for foster parents?

No. Older people are some of our best foster parents. However, if there are health concerns, the counselor may ask for a statement from your doctor.

What if the parent(s) work outside the home?

Many good foster parents work outside the home, and this is normally not a problem. Employed foster parents may be given a referral for childcare services for foster children.

How long do foster children stay in foster care?

Timing is hard to predict. While foster care is a temporary arrangement for children, the amount of time a child spends in foster care depends on the particular child and his or her parents. The law requires, in most circumstances, that every effort be made to reunite children with their parents as soon as it appears safe for the child. If the child cannot be safely reunited within a certain period of time (12 to 15 months), the law requires that another permanent home be found for the child.

Do foster children see their biological parents during the time they are in foster care?

Most children in foster care visit their biological parents on a regular basis – typically weekly – at a FamiliesFirst Network office, visitation center or other location in the community. This is part of the court-ordered plan to reunite the family. Foster parents are expected to cooperate with the child’s visitation plan. Foster parents do not have to meet with the child’s parents, but it is in the best interest of the child if the foster parents are willing to work with the biological parents. The location and schedule of visits is arranged between the biological parent(s), the court and the assigned case manager. Foster parents are expected to assist with transportation to and from visits. If there are transportation difficulties, assistance can be arranged to and from visits.

How long does it take to be licensed?

The process to become licensed generally takes about 90 days after you complete an application, training, background screen and a home study.

Is it true that foster parents cannot spank a foster child?

Yes. Foster parents are prohibited by law from using any form of physical punishment. Positive, warmth and caring discipline should be used with any child who has experienced trauma.

Can a foster child share a room with my child?

Yes. However, each child must have his or her own bed, and children age 3 or older must be of the same gender.

Would I have any choice about the types of children or adolescents placed with me?

Absolutely. We license homes for children aged newborn to 17 years old, occasionally older. Foster parents can specify their preferred age and gender, as well as any behavioral problems they don’t feel equipped to handle. Foster parents should only accept children whom they believe they can manage. When contacted about a possible placement, you have the right to ask about the child’s known needs and behaviors. You may accept or refuse placement based on that information.

How many children could I be licensed for?

A number of factors affect how many children can be placed with you. Parents are generally licensed for a maximum of five children including their own, assuming the home has adequate facilities to meet the requirements. On occasions when siblings need to be placed together or a larger sibling group of six or more needs a home, an over-capacity waiver can be arranged if a home is found to have sufficient room.

What kinds of problems do the children generally have?

Children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment can exhibit behavioral problems, developmental delays, learning delays, sleep disturbances, bedwetting or emotional instability. Some may have symptoms of prenatal alcohol or drug exposure such as irritability, extreme sensitivity to stimulation, distractibility or an inability to learn from consequences. In most cases, these symptoms are mild to moderate. Counseling for the children with special needs is arranged through the child’s case manager.

Once I become licensed, how long will it be before children are placed in my home?

It depends on the type of care you want to provide. It is likely you will begin receiving calls, soon after your license is issued.

Can we take the foster child with us on vacation?

Yes. However, you must notify the case manager and sometimes the court for out-of-state travel. It cannot interfere with the child’s visitation as ordered by the court.

Can we leave the foster child with a babysitter?

Yes, foster parents need a social life of their own. Respite care might also be available. Please consult with the child’s family services counselor or the assigned foster home development counselor.

Is there a problem with our having pets?

Generally not. Families and their foster children enjoy pets. Only concerns are around issues of safety, cleanliness, or health factors (i.e. a child’s allergies).