The term “special needs” is often used in child welfare. Children can be determined to have special needs for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:
Part of a sibling group
An older child
Mental or behavioral health issue
Learning or developmental delay
Foster parents are strongly encouraged to work with birth families and develop a relationship. It is in the child’s best interests to see everyone working together. On the very rare occasions when there are safety concerns, the agency will not expect you to put yourself or your family at risk.
Even parents who have raised their own children must complete pre-placement training to become foster parents. Not only is it required by law, but it’s also a really good idea. Pre-placement and ongoing training teaches you strategies for caring for children who have been through the trauma of abuse or neglect. Attend training with an open mind and be ready to learn.
Yes, you absolutely can. You don’t have to have biological children to become a foster parent. In fact, providing temporary care to children who have been through the trauma of abuse and neglect is very different than raising biological children from birth in a stable and loving environment. Perhaps even more so, it requires patience, commitment and flexibility. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either.
No. Children in foster care can share a bedroom with other children in the home, but they must have their own bed. Children of the opposite sex can share a bedroom as long as all are under age 5. Children in foster care cannot sleep in bedrooms in a basement or an attic unless approved by the agency and a state fire inspector.
Absolutely! In fact, foster parents are required to maintain an income that meets the needs of the household without the foster child. However, it is important to remember that foster parents are responsible for getting children to appointments, just like with their own children. Some agencies may offer assistance in this area, especially when it comes to visits with birth parents or other family members. This is a good question to ask when you’re looking for a foster care agency.
For more information about foster care, please see Foster Parent Costs.
No, there is no maximum age for fostering or adopting. As long as you are healthy enough to care for a child, you can foster or adopt.
No, you don’t. Many amazing foster and adoptive parents are single.
No. Foster and adoptive parents can own or rent. They can live in a house or an apartment. The only requirement is that there must be adequate space for the child and their belongings.
It varies. The goal is to have a homestudy completed within six months of the date the family completes the application. During that time, the family has to complete several training sessions and documents, and the agency has many requirements to meet, as well. The average time from start to finish is approximately three to four months.
If you know the phone number, call the worker’s supervisor. If not, call the main number for your county department of job and family services or public children services agency and ask to speak to your caseworker’s supervisor.
To find contact information for your public children services agency, please go to the Resource Map and search for the PCSA that is is involved with your family.
If your goal is to adopt an infant, then it is not recommended that you become a foster parent. Foster parents must be able to work with all members of the child welfare team toward reunification with the birth family. Most children in foster care are able to return to their birth families or to be placed with kin.
Yes, foster and adoptive parents can choose the type of child (age, gender, number of children, etc.) they believe they are qualified to parent.
Foster care is temporary. Foster parents care for children while their parents work to create a safe and stable family environment for them to return home to. Reunification with birth parents or other family members is the goal.
Adoption is permanent. Children become eligible for adoption if their birth parents’ rights are terminated. Once a judge finalizes an adoption, the child is legally part of the adoptive family, just like a biological child.
For more information on the differences, please see How to Choose Your Path.