1. The home study process
This is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the licensing process. Applicants will be given questionnaires and participate in a series of in-home interviews (usually 5 total) that allow the agency to construct a story of your family. The questions are thorough and we will go over every aspect of your childhood, past and present relationships, your parenting style, and value/belief systems. Tough things like child abuse and neglect history, substance use and criminal history are discussed. When the interviews are complete, we write a home study report that is usually 20 or more pages long. The foster parents are always given an opportunity to read the report in person, to check for accuracy. If we have any concerns along the way that may prevent you from being able to foster, we will let you know.
There are countless rules in foster care, and you will be expected to learn them! Foster parents will attend core training before becoming licensed; this will provide them with about 15 hours of face to face education about things like rules and regulations, expectations, the reasons that children come into care, and working with biological families. Foster parents are required to obtain ongoing hours of training each year they are with us.
3. Being a foster parent does not require superpowers
But guaranteed… it will be much more challenging than you bargained for. This is one of the most difficult roles you can play, but can also be the most rewarding. Set yourself up for success and enlist the help of friends, family and other foster families before you accept a child into your home. Our little guys usually have needs that are over and above biological children who have not been exposed to maltreatment. They typically experience sleep disturbances, more frequent illnesses, and may have developmental delays that require additional therapies like physical, speech or occupational. In addition to that, there will normally be many appointments each month- visitation with the child’s family is usually twice per week for two hour sessions at the referring county’s department; visits with the caseworker and child’s attorney (Guardian ad Litem), visits with our staff and report writing/documentation gathering.
Successful foster families aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it, and communicate frequently with the child’s team and our agency.
4. Foster families NEED support
Foster families should expect that their agencies will be responsive- whether you just need to ‘vent’ or if a need pops up in the middle of the night. New families will also need to rely on the experience of other families who have been at this for a long time. Courage community offers both. We take the emotional health of our foster families seriously, and prioritize your needs along with the needs of our children. Calls are answered right away, we participate in meetings with you, we will attend court for you…we are in this with you. Our group of families includes people who represent foster parents at the State and Federal level, those who have fostered dozens of children, and those who have been at it for years and years. They have the kind of information that only a practicing foster parent knows, and they can help mentor you for success.
5. Biological family
The word ‘orphan’ is often used in foster care, but this term is inaccurate. Our children are almost never orphans- they have parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of the family who are important to them. Biological family is, and always will be, part of the child’s makeup. Foster care was designed to provide a temporary, safe and loving home for children who cannot live with their families of origin. More often than not, reunification with parents or relatives is the primary goal for a child in foster care. It is our duty to support this goal by extending compassion and respect to the child’s family of origin, and making sure we do everything we can to help the county in efforts to reunify. A positive relationship between the foster and biological family can make all the difference for a child emotionally.
Ready to get started?
Are you looking to be a foster family? Are you hoping to adopt? Courage Community Foster Care is based in Colorado; our staff is ready to answer any questions you might have about the process.
Please contact us at [email protected], or call 719-321-4319.