Foster Parent Information
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is specially designed to handle the demands of children who have experienced various types of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Therapeutic foster/adoptive parents are people who have the ability to parent the more challenging child. Therapeutic foster/adoptive parents get specialized training to help them work with these children. They also receive support and other services from Circles of Care to aid them in caring for these children.
Circles of Care also provides foster care for basic care children who do not have any special therapeutic needs. Our basic care foster parents are still required to receive the specialized training that Therapeutic parents receive to help them work with these children. They also receive support and other services from Circles of Care to aid them in caring for these children.
Foster/adoptive parent qualifications…
In order to become a foster/adoptive parent with Circles of Care, a household must have all of the following minimum qualifications:
- Be a United States Citizen or US Resident.
- Be at least 21 years of age if married, and at least 25 if single.
- If married, must be married for at least one year.
- If divorced or widowed, must have been for at least one year.
- Have a highschool diploma or GED or demonstrate equivalent.
- Have no criminal history violating state standards.
- Have no history of abuse or neglect.
- Have at least 40 square feet of space if child will be sharing a bedroom.
- Home/apartment equipped with heat and air conditioning.
- Have reliable transportation (own a vehicle).
- Available hospital or emergency services within 40 miles.
- Available public schools.
Becoming a foster/adoptive parent…
There are 5 main steps to becoming a foster/adoptive parent with Circles of Care:
- Contact COC office to arrange for an orientation meeting.
- Complete an application and criminal background check.
- Complete a home study interview with COC social worker.
- Attend pre-service training, including training in CPR and First Aid, Emergency Behavior Intervention, Behavior Management, Medication, Communication, Abuse & Neglect, and Separation & Loss.
- Obtain inspections to include Health, Fire, gas (if applicable), TB test for every household member, and rabies vaccinations for all family pets.
There are services and support for all foster/adoptive parents within the COC system, including:
- 24 hour Case Management support
- Reimbursement rates per day, per child:
Levels of Care are based on child/youth needs and degree of emotional or behavioral problems.
- Initial clothing allowance.
- Training money provided to obtain annual continuing education training requirements.
- Foster family appreciation events.
- Agency events/outings for children.
- Reimbursement for fire and health inspections.
An overview of the role and responsibilities of foster/adoptive parents…
The role of foster/adoptive parents as defined by COC is outlined as such:
- Provide a safe environment for children.
- Provide food, clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene needs, and recreation.
- Transport children to and from necessary medical and mental health appointments, biological parent/child visits, court appointments, and other necessary appointments.
- Provide positive role-modeling, support, structure, and discipline.
- Participate in the development of child/youth service treatment plan.
- Participate in child/youth education to include: attending ARD meetings, parent/teacher conferences as necessary, and aid child in schoolwork as needed.
Commonly Asked Questions
There are several questions that affect how adults judge whether or not they want to become foster/adoptive parents. Some of the most commonly asked questions and answers are listed below. Please feel free to contact Circles of Care with any questions you might have that are not addressed here.
Who/what is Circles of Care?
Circles of Care (COC) is a private agency dedicated to helping children, youth and families in need of social and mental health services. Circles of Care’s child placement program works with children taken into State custody due to abuse and neglect or other circumstances in which the children have been removed or lost their biological family. Circles of Care is not a State agency or a branch of the State, although we do receive most of our referrals from State departments, when they have the need for a home for a child/youth.
What is therapeutic foster care?
Therapeutic foster care is specially designed to handle the demands of children who have experienced various types of abuse and neglect. Their emotional or behavioral problems require special attention and intervention. Therapeutic foster parents are people who have the ability to parent the more challenging child. Therapeutic foster parents get specialized training to help them work with these children. They also receive support and other services from Circles of Care to aid them in caring for these children.
Circles of Care also provides foster care for basic care children that do not have any special therapeutic needs. Our basic care foster parents are still required to receive the specialized training that Therapeutic parents receive.
What are the children like who need therapeutic foster care?
Children who have experienced various types of abuse, abandonment, or who come from dysfunctional environments often have emotional and/ or behavioral problems. The symptoms of these problems can vary greatly. Children may be withdrawn and depressed, have problems eating, hoarding food, clingy, oppositional or defiant, tantrums, verbal and or physical aggression, lying, masturbation, bedwetting, nightmares, learning difficulties, etc. Some children may also have medical needs such as asthma or being a diabetic. These children can seem like beautiful, normal children much of the time, and the degree to which some of these symptoms are manifested varies greatly. Basic Care children do not have the emotional or behavioral problems that Therapeutic children have; although all children have minor to moderate problems at times.
Do I have a say in the type of children placed in my home?
Always. You and the Circles of Care social worker discuss the type of children that you are willing to and feel that you would best work with. This may include such things as age, sex, race, personalities, and presenting problems or behaviors such as those discussed above. If you and your Circles of Care social worker decide that a particular referred child will work well in your home a pre-placement visit is set up if possible to give you and the child an opportunity to meet each other and to get a “feel” on whether the placement would be a good one.
After this visit, you, the Circles of Care social worker, the child, and the referring agency jointly decide on whether or not to make a placement in your home. Don’t be afraid to say no to a possible placement. It is in everyone’s best interest to be honest about your concerns and wants.
How long do the children stay in your home?
It varies and depends on the case or situation of the biological family and other circumstances. Many of the biological parents get services through State departments they are involved with to help them get their children back. They may need to go to drug rehab, parenting classes, counseling, and/or get other housing. The average length of stay is 1 year, but may be shorter or longer. Sometimes, while the children are in foster care, the parents or biological family do not make the changes in their life to be able to provide a safe environment for the children and the State legally terminates parental rights and at that time the child is placed up for adoption. The amount of time it will take the child to be adopted also varies greatly.
Will I be able to adopt a foster child in my home if I want to?
Possibly. Sometimes foster children are not able to be returned to their biological parents nor is there any biological family that are appropriate for the child or who are willing to care for the child. Although family reunification is always the goal, it is not always possible. In these circumstances, the State goes through the legal process of terminating the parental rights. When parental rights are terminated this frees the child for legal adoption. Foster Parents can then apply to adopt the child.
How will I be able to afford and pay for having a child in my care?
Circles of Care pays the foster parents to help cover the cost of caring for these children. Children are assigned what is called a Service Package from an agency called Youth for Tomorrow. The Service Packages are: Basic Care, Moderate Care, Specialized Care, and Intensive Care. The Service Packages are assigned based on a number of factors such as: presenting problems and behaviors, how well the child functions when compared to other children, and what services they require, such as counseling services. Circles of Care works with Basic, Moderate, Specialized and Intense needs children. Circles of Care pays 27.07 per day/child for Basic Care, 47.37 per day/child for Moderate Care, 58.00 per day/child for Specialized care and 95.00 per day/child for Intense Service level. Children’s service levels are evaluated on a regular basis and their levels can fluctuate and change.
This payment is to cover the cost of lodging, food, clothing, school supplies, school uniforms, daycare (if needed), diapers (for infants and toddlers), over the counter medication, personal hygiene needs, recreation expenses, and such things as gas and other underlying expenses incurred in raising and caring for children. All foster children have federal medical coverage called Medicaid that will cover all their medical needs (prescription costs, medical procedures, surgery, hospitalizations) and dental needs, with the exception of more than 2 pair of glasses needed in a calendar year (Medicaid pays for two pair a year) or for more than 6 braces bracket repairs a year (Medicaid pays for 5 repairs a year). This payment is considered reimbursement and is not taxable, except in special circumstances. Always talk with and consult your accountant to help you determine if you must pay some taxes at the end of the year.
Circles of Care also offers other support and services to you.
What do I need to do and how long does it take to become a therapeutic foster/adoptive parent?
For certification as a foster parent or foster-to-adopt parent, you are required to obtain certain Governmental requirements and Circles of Care requirements. These include attending classes in First Aid & CPR, Psychotropic Medication, and Emergency Behavior Intervention (SAMA, PAPH, CPI). The medication class and Managing Aggressive Behavior class is provided to you by Circles of Care, and the CPR & First Aid class is either provided by or paid by Circles of Care. There are also other classes Circles of Care offers that you must attend on such topics as: Abuse and Neglect, effective communication, behavior management, and separation and loss.
You are also required to receive 40 hours of supervision/training from another therapeutic foster family before working with Specialized children/youth. You can work with Basic Care and Moderate Care children without this requirement. Volunteer or work experience with children who have emotional and/or behavioral problems may substitute for the 40 hours of supervision.
There are several other requirements such as receiving a Fire and Health Inspection on your home. Circles of Care currently reimburses you up to 75.00 for the required Fire and Health Inspection fees that are charged by the city or county departments who must conduct these inspections and $100.00 for a gas inspection if the residence has or uses natural gas. Everyone living in the home must also receive a TB test. Circles of Care currently reimburses up to $10.00 to have the TB test completed on the foster parents and any children living in the home under the age of 18. In addition, you must complete a Home Study with a Circles of Care social worker. The Home Study is giving background information on you and your family and Circles of Care assessing your ability to work with children and the types of children you would best care for. Car insurance as well as Renters or Home Owners insurance is also required to be carried.
Circles of Care normally certifies a family within 3 months. This period also depends on you and how quickly you can complete all the requirements. Some families take longer because of work schedules or other circumstances.
Once I am licensed/certified, do I have to do anything?
Yes. There are requirements for you to maintain your license. Foster parents have to receive 30 hours each of training per year. Psychotropic Medication and Managing Aggressive Behavior are subjects/courses that have to be re- taken each year and count toward those hours. For the remaining hours, Circles of Care provides each person/provider with a training fund of $250.00 per year for you to attend school, workshops, conferences, or seminars that pertain to mental health, social work, child development, and parenting. You are also allowed to obtain 12 of your annual hours through reading books or watching videos pertaining to children/child rearing, mental health, etc.
Your Circles of Care social worker will go over in more detail all the initial requirements to become certified/licensed and any ongoing requirements to maintain your license.
There is also required paperwork that has to be completed on the foster children. For example, anytime the child goes to any type of doctor the foster parents have to get the doctor to fill out a certain Circles of Care form that is used for record keeping in the child’s file. All medications administered to the child must also be documented on a Circles of Care medication log form, to be kept in the child’s file at Circles of Care. Many of the children are on daily medication and this has to be documented; verifying it was administered. Weekly progress reports must also be completed, charting the child’s progress toward their treatment plan goals or lack of progress.
What other help or support will I have in caring for children/youth in my home?
Your Circles of Care social worker is there to help and support you, to insure the child’s safety, and that the child is receiving everything they need. The Circles of Care social worker will monitor the child and your home and help with interventions or services the child may need. A Circles of Care social worker is always on call in case of emergencies. Circles of Care social workers are also there to help you stay within Government standards (requirements) in regards to foster homes and the care of foster children.
When children first come into your care they often have great needs for such things as clothing. The Circles of Care staff will take and assess a child’s needs and may give the foster family a one time, initial clothing allowance to help them buy clothes for the child/youth. Thereafter, your daily reimbursement is there to help you buy clothes or school uniforms for children in your care.
Circles of Care also provides an annual $250.00 training fund for each foster parent. The foster parents can use these funds to go to trainings, conferences, or seminars that will teach/help them to work with the type of children Circles of Care serves.
Since there are mandatory Government requirements for foster parents, Circles of Care helps you meet these requirements such as medication training and managing aggressive behavior training, by providing these classes for you. Circles of Care also provides you with the above-mentioned training funds to help you obtain your other required annual training hours.
Circles of Care holds a monthly support group in which foster parents get together and talk about their experiences with caring for children and problem solve difficult situations together. This support group also helps with your health and well-being.
Circles of Care occasionally holds events to give us the opportunity to show you how much we appreciate you and to also allow all the families, children, and Circles of Care staff to get together and have some fun. We may have a party, picnic, or an outing such as going to a theme park.
How long does it take to get a child placed in my home once I am licensed?
It varies. Circles of Care receives referrals from State agencies on a regular basis. However, it may take longer to place a child in your home depending on what is specified as the ages, gender, and behaviors that you have the skills to work with and are willing or can work with.
Your social worker will go over all this information, and more, during orientation and again during the licensing process. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.
Misconceptions about Foster Care and Adoption
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding foster care and adoption. Here, we hope to dispel some of those wrong ideas and answer more questions about the process of becoming and being a care provider.