Individuals often have anxieties and fears about becoming a foster parent. Answers to frequently asked questions about foster parenting may help alleviate your worries.
What are the mandatory requirements to become a foster parent?
- Minimum 21 years of age
- Rent or own a living space with a minimum of 2 bedrooms with a bed for a foster child
- Submit to criminal and civil background checks
- Complete pre-service training classes
- Complete a medical exam by a physician
- Have income sufficient to meet all your household needs
- If you meet these requirements and want to move forward, your first step will be to complete 36 hours of pre-service training. The second step is filling out the application. The third step is the home study process which includes references, a background check and home assessment.
How long will the child be in my home?
There are many circumstances that affect the length of stay in care. It can be anywhere from a week to two years before the child returns home or becomes eligible for adoption.
Can I choose the child I have in my home?
Yes. Throughout the training, you’ll gain insights that will help you figure out what type of child might work best with your family. You’ll always have the right to accept or decline a referral.
Can we change our mind if the placement does not work?
Our goal is for placements to be as lasting as possible because most children have experienced intense trauma. But if you have asked for help for the child’s behavior and still feel you can’t keep them in your home, we ask that you provide 30 day written notice to complete the process.
How many children can I have in my home at one time?
Typically only one or two children are placed in the home due to the intensive nature of working with traumatized children. Exceptions may be made for sibling groups or experienced, treatment-certified foster parents.
What kind of support will I get from Lighthouse?
Once you begin you should expect at least weekly contact with your social worker and team leader. You will continue to attend training throughout your life as a foster parent.
You will receive reimbursement for many of the expenses associated with caring for your foster child.
- Clothing allowances per child every 3 months while the child is placed in your home
- Mileage reimbursement for foster child related transportation
- School fees reimbursement
- Christmas money and gifts
- Tax-free per diem paid on the 10th of each month
- Sibling bonus
How do most foster children adapt to a new home?
Not every child wants a new mom or dad. This is especially true of teenagers who may already be quite self-reliant with their own activities and their own set of friends. In such cases you may be called upon to be more like a coach or a mentor than a “parent.” But you can still provide a place to call home along with structure and guidance.
What’s it like if or when my foster child returns to his/her primary family?
It can be tough after you’ve become attached to the child and the child attached to you. But returning home is usually planned well in advance and is best for the child. You’ll know what’s coming.
Can I adopt from foster care?
Yes, it’s definitely possible. But every case is unique and we can’t guarantee that the child who is placed in your home will be available for adoption. In addition, approval as an adoptive parent is a separate process from foster home certification.
What types of children does Lighthouse get in placement?
Children from birth to 18 years of age, with an average age of 7. They can be placed by themselves or with siblings. They come from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
How are foster children disciplined?
Pre-service training should give you a good understanding about the discipline that foster children often need. Corporal punishment of any kind is prohibited. Ongoing training will help you get better with intervention skills and techniques for better stability.
How much contact will I have to have with the primary family?
Most children have home visits and phone calls with their primary families. This contact is very important. They love and miss their families and tend to hurt more when contact is broken. For a foster parent whose goal is to help and heal, these visits are opportunities to help the primary families stay connected to their children.
Do we ever get a break?
Yes. We offer and encourage monthly respite with another Lighthouse home. We’ll arrange that for you.