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 18 years of age
- Rent or own a living space with a minimum of 2 bedrooms and a bed for a foster child
- 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 pre-service training. You will also have to complete a course of CPR and first aid. The second step is filling out the application. The third step is the home study process which includes references, a medical exam by a physician, criminal and civil background checks and home assessment for you and your household.
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 couple of days to several years before the child returns home, becomes eligible for adoption, or emancipates from care.
How many children can I have in my home at one time?
The maximum number of children allowed in a home, including foster and non-foster children, is ten. During the assessment process, program staff will work with you to determine what the right maximum number of placements for your home and lifestyle would be.
What kind of support will I get from Lighthouse?
Once you begin, you should expect at least biweekly contact with your assigned social worker. You will continue to attend training throughout your time as a foster parent. For each placement in your home, you will receive a tax free per diem payment on the 10th, with exceptions for agency holidays and weekends.
- Per diem payments are intended to be all encompassing for the care of each child in your home. This includes coverage for things such as mileage reimbursement for transportation, a clothing stipend, and funding for extracurricular activities.
- Lighthouse also provides a one time bonus payment each time that a foster parent accepts a placement of a sibling set and maintains that placement for thirty consecutive days.
How do most foster children adapt to a new home?
Every child is different. Your Lighthouse social worker will be there to support and assist you during the adjustment process. It’s important to keep in mind that, despite what they’ve been through, most children would choose to stay with their families. One way to potentially ease the adjustment process is to try and incorporate positive things from their life at home. For example, a favorite meal or “creature comforts,” such as a particular bedtime routine.
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. It is important to remember that the primary goal of foster care is for children to return to their home or be placed with another relative or family friend. Ultimately, the county that holds custody makes final decisions related to where a child is placed. Lighthouse works hard to collaborate with custodial counties and keep open lines of communication related to discharge planning so that we can keep foster parents in the loop.
What types of children does Lighthouse get in placement?
Children from birth to 21 years of age, with an average age of 10. They can be placed by themselves or with siblings. They come from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
How much contact will I have to have with the primary family?
Most children have 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. A foster parent’s goal should be to help the primary families stay connected to their children when permitted by the custodial county.
What happens if I need a break?
We offer monthly respite in another Lighthouse home. This respite is planned in advance and occurs overnight, which we arrange for you. We also encourage foster parents to have what are called alternative caregivers, which are people that are approved by Lighthouse to provide care for foster children for brief periods of time that do not extend overnight. We acknowledge that emergencies do arise at times and are also here to assist with making care arrangements in those situations when needed.