It’s no secret that choosing to become a foster parent is a life-changing decision. Still, the majority of people who’ve fostered a child in need will tell you that the experience has made a remarkable impact on their lives.
If you’re considering fostering a child in Colorado, you might start to feel overwhelmed when you realize everything you need to accomplish to become a foster parent, including training requirements, and ensuring that your home is suitable for foster parenting. With such a long list, you can easily overlook an important part of the process.
If you’ve started researching how to become a foster parent, you may already know that there are several different foster agencies in Colorado that you can choose from to help you with the process. You may have felt a little overwhelmed deciding which foster agency is right for you.
Here are some things that you need to consider when choosing the right foster care agency:
Once you become a foster parent, you will need to contact your agency many times throughout the program. That means that it’s essential to choose a foster care that quickly responds and provides support.
How does the agency respond to you when you were not yet a part of their program? Do they respond to your calls quickly, or do they take days before getting back to you? The answer to these questions can help you gauge how responsive they will be once you become a foster parent.
An agency that isn’t very responsive from the onset is likely to treat you the same way after you sign up with them.
How much one-on-one time did the agency give you when you first contacted them? Did they meet you individually, or did they herd you into a group orientation?
As a first-time foster parent, you will surely have lots of questions to ask. If the foster care agency cannot spend one to two hours of one-on-one time with you to get to know you, it’s hard to imagine how they can provide you with a suitable foster child later.
It’s easy to make things look impressive on the internet, so it’s still best to do a personal tour of the agency office as much as possible. Does the place exude warmth? Is it clean and neat? What kind of services do they offer? Do they have adequate staff? Do they provide support groups?
If you want to find out how the agency works, pay a visit to their facility and observe how the employees work, how the place is maintained, and how inviting the ambiance is.
For foster children to have a healthy well-being, they need a family that is loving and nurturing, and a community that provides support to families, as well as opportunities for the children to grow and learn. The foster agency should also have a dedicated home supervisor who can guide and encourage you throughout the process.
Does the agency have activities and celebrations throughout the year where families can all mingle? Such events can help foster parents get better acquainted with each other, while also helping the foster children look forward to spending time with other children in similar situations.
A good foster care agency should provide a lot of aid through support groups and classes. And because the child is the key component of foster care, the agency should be able to care for the kids while you are participating in these support classes.
Adequate support for parents
Find out whether the foster care agency offers certification classes, first aid training, and post-adoption support, or if you need to take those classes elsewhere on your own. It’s also essential that the agency provides opportunities for foster parents to be actively involved in the organization and have dialogues with the management.
Does the foster care agency have a regular newsletter or updated website that can keep you and the whole community in the loop about their latest undertakings or upcoming events?
Every foster agency in Colorado is different. The key is to find the one that best fits your needs. Are you looking for a faith-based agency or one that is community-oriented and provides several educational opportunities?
Evaluate the agency’s mission statement and values, and see whether they match yours.
Some foster care agencies’ main goal is to support families as they take on the responsibility of providing foster care for children in need. But some agencies focus more on helping you maximize the number of children placed in your home for higher monetary benefits. Choose a foster care agency that matches your intentions.
Demographics of children
Find out the ages and demographics of the children typically placed by the agency. Most foster care agencies in Colorado keep a record of the ages and demographics of the children they serve. Do they specialize in young kids, teens, or children with special needs? What about children who are considered part of the “at-risk” populations? What are their policies for keeping all children equally safe and protected? If you’re interested in fostering toddlers, do not sign up with an agency that specializes in serving teens.
Statistics and references
One important thing to consider when choosing the best foster care agency in Colorado is the number of children placed through the agency each month. If the agency doesn’t receive much, expect to wait quite a while to receive a placement.
The adoption rate from Colorado foster agencies is about 6%. For private agencies, the rate can go up to 20%, which indicates the proficiency of the agency and the type of child placed through them.
Most foster care agencies in Colorado keep a record of the current and past families they served. You can ask the agencies for this list and call these families to ask about their experiences.
It’s quite easy to find out how long the foster care agency has been around. But it will take some asking around to verify their expertise, the professionalism of their staff, and whether they stay true to their parenting philosophies.
In Colorado, licensing requires only the minimum standards, so expect each foster care agency to be very, very different from each other.
Some foster care agencies offer relatively few services, while larger ones provide more programs, including refugee services, crisis pregnancy services, and therapy services. These types of foster care agencies often consider child placement only as a sideline.
Does the agency have a good reputation? What do other people in the community say about the agency? Ask around and do your search. Do people in the community know about the foster care agency? This can tell whether the agency actively participates in community projects or events.
Inclusion of your birth children
If you have your own kids, you will want them to understand what foster care is about. Does the agency provide training and activities that your children can attend? Ask the foster care agency about special clubs that your birth children can attend alongside their foster siblings.
Courage Community Foster Care in Colorado offers child placement services in the Denver Metro and Colorado Springs area, as well as the rural communities of Lake, Summit, Chaffee, and Park Counties. We serve all children aged 0 to 20 years old regardless of age or ethnicity. We started in 2012 with the mission of making life-changing connections between families. If you’re considering fostering a child in Colorado, please give us a call today at 719.321.4319, or send us an email at kerrih@FosterCourage.com.