How do I get licensed to be a foster or adoptive foster parent?
You first choose a child placing agency (foster agency). They will provide all the training, applications, background checks and give you a list of "to do's" to be completed before becoming a licensed foster/adoptive parent. Each agency must uphold to state minimum standards but beyond that they each go about it in slightly different ways. This is the most important decision you will make and it will play a huge part in your success as a foster/adoptive parent. Talk with current foster families, call agencies and interview them before making a decision.
How long does the process take?
This varies with the agency and your dedication to completing the required components. 3-5 months is a typical timeframe from start to child placement. Now this is also highly dependent on the parameters you set for the children you will take into your home. If you want a 0-1 year old that you can likely adopt, you will be waiting 6-12 months. However, if you have a wider range and are looking to foster only or foster/adopt, you could have a child the day you sign your contract.
Do I decide which children come into my home?
Absolutely! You and your agency will determine the age range and behavioral issues you are able to best handle. After you are licensed your agency will call you with a prospective placement. They will give you all the information they have at the time and then you can accept or decline.
How much does it cost?
The upfront costs can add up to about $200. You have to pay for fire and health inspection and rates vary depending on your county. (We are working to get foster family bags to help defer these costs). You will have to have a TB test and take CPR/1st Aid training, which vary in cost.
Do I get financial help to pay for the cost of caring for the child?
Absolutely! The state of Texas sets the pay rate which is currently based on a child's level of care classifications. This means if a child has significant issues that require more time and money, they will pay a higher daily rate to foster parents. Basic children receive about $22/day.
Do I have to be married, live in a house, and be a stay-at-home parent?
No! Single parents who work and live in apartments make wonderful foster parents. There are standards set by the state that must be met, such as age, financial ability to meet all household bills, and the ability to provide the child with 70 sq ft. of living space and an area to store their belongings. Depending on the age and gender of the child, they may be able to share a room.
What about medical/dental care for foster children?
All foster children receive Medicaid. You are free to pick any provider that accepts their insurance.
How long do foster children stay in a home?
1 day to forever. Typically a case takes 9-18 months to complete, but there are an infinite amount of factors that affect the timeline.
Can I take children out of town or on vacation?
Yes, and you should. Nothing says you aren't really part of our family than leaving them somewhere else while the "real" family goes to Disney Land. As soon as they walk in the door they should be treated as full fledged members of the family. Of course, there are always unforeseen circumstances where taking foster children is not feasible and in some circumstances, due to the case, may not be allowed. In those cases, respite care can be used.
My spouse and I both work; if the kids are not in school yet, do we pay for daycare?
If you both work 40 hrs a week, you will receive free childcare at approved facilities. Your agency will help you find those facilities.
Can we leave the children with a babysitter?
Yes, if they are an approved babysitter and meet the minimum standards set by the state and your agency. Over night stays away from home must be approved by the child's caseworker and be with a licensed/approved respite provider.
Can I really handle this?
If God has called you to this, then He will equip you. It may very well bring you to the end of your own abilities, strengths, or perceived limits, but that is right where God steps in and carries you and your faith grows by leaps and bounds. We will be here to help you along the way. Foster care is not charity...it is war on evil! Prepare accordingly and expect to battle for the kid's lives.