Many people are not aware of the vital role foster care agencies play in their communities. The purpose of foster care is to provide a safe and healthy environment with positive support that will temporarily protect and nurture a child in need of care and protection until the child can be reunited with his or her biological family.
There are several invaluable services that foster care agencies provide to their communities. This is a brief description of the main services offered by a typical foster agency.
Recruit and Train Foster Parents
The number of children needing foster care in Texas far exceeds the number of licensed foster parents. This is why the agencies are always involved with recruiting people to apply to be foster parents. They are also responsible for ensuring that, in order to become licensed, an applicant meets the foster parent eligibility requirements.
Before they start caring for foster children in their homes, applicants must complete training on various subjects. Applicants are provided with training by foster agencies on these subjects:
- Caring for a child who has experienced trauma
- The diversity of different cultures
- Safety in and around water
- Child development
- Managing medication
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Placing Children in Foster Homes
Foster care agencies employ caseworkers to find suitable placements for foster children. This is really not an easy job. Unfortunately, at any time day or night traumatic circumstances can cause children to need foster care placement.
The ideal solution is to place children with their relatives in what is known as “kinship care.” However, it can be quite a challenge to find family members, particularly for younger children who are unable to name relatives. Family members quite often are unable or unwilling to provide foster care for various reasons.
Caseworkers have to find a licensed foster parent who is suitable for the case in question, when kinship care is not available. Foster care agencies prefer to keep sibling groups together to prevent children from experiencing more loss. It can be particularly challenging to place large sibling groups, as many foster homes don’t have enough beds.
Provide Support for Foster Families
A good foster care agency will not place children and then forget about them. To offer ongoing support to foster families, they have plans and systems in place. Throughout the year foster care agencies such as Kids First, provide continuing education to foster parents. In addition, the agencies can offer foster families support groups and annual retreats.
Are you in the Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas area, and interested in becoming a foster parent? Contact us at Kids First to begin the process.