It is truly a life changing decision to become a foster parent. Thinking of opening your home and heart to children who have undergone abuse and trauma is likely to leave you with several unanswered questions. At Kids First we would like you to feel you can discuss whatever uncertainties you may have. We are here to answer any of your questions about foster care.
We have provided answers to some of the frequently asked questions by people who are new to the foster care system.
1. Why Are Children in Foster Care?
There are many reasons why children are placed in the foster care system, but basically it is because they or their families are experiencing extreme turmoil. One or more of the following could be included in serious cases.
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Incarceration of the parent
It is unsafe for a child to keep on staying in their biological home under these circumstances.
2. How Does a Child Enter the Foster Care System?
After receiving reports or referrals regarding suspicions or allegations of child abuse, neglect or exploitation made to the Statewide Abuse/Neglect Hotline, either online or by calling (800) 252-5400, intake specialists refer the call to the appropriate department. Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services (APS), Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL), or Child Care Licensing (CCL). The safety of the children or adults is assessed by the department. CPS is notified immediately if it is established that children are in immediate danger and an alternative accommodation sought with relatives. Should there be no suitable relative, foster homes that are available will be contacted.
3. How Long Does a Child Usually Stay in Foster Care?
The child’s family situation, the child’s needs and your family’s goals and capacities will determine the length of stay. A child’s average stay could be from six months to one year, though there have been some cases ranging from one year to much longer. Foster care is designed to be a temporary living arrangement until it is possible to reunite with their biological family or the child is adopted.
4. Why Are Some Children Reunited with Their Biological Families?
The main aim of the CPS is to reunite children with their biological families once the families are able to overcome the issues that resulted in the removal. CPS offers resources and plans for the biological family to regain the custody of their children. Once the biological family follows all the conditions of the program and helps in the regaining full custody, the children may be returned.
5. How Long Does It Take to Become Certified and Have a Child Placed at My Home?
On average it takes 90 days, but it can vary. During a processing a foster child’s needs and a foster family’s strengths are considered with great care. If you are prepared to care for a wider age range of children (especially older children) the process may be expedited. This is also the case with disabilities or special needs or a sibling group of three or more children.