What is foster care and who needs it?
Foster care is temporary out-of-home care for children. Most often, children in need of foster care have experienced some level of abuse or neglect. Children who cannot be adequately cared for in their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment need foster care.
What is a foster parent?
A loving person who provides love, care, shelter and basic necessities for a child who cannot be safely cared for in his/her own biological family.
How do children come into foster care?
Child Protective Service (CPS) investigates reports of suspected child abuse and neglect and removes children from threatening emergency situations.
Who decides that a child needs foster care?
A juvenile court judge decides to keep a child in foster care.
What is the goal of foster care?
The goal of foster care is to reunite a child with his/her biological parents/family whenever possible. A judge decides when, or if, it is safe to return a child to his/her biological parents.
Who can be a foster parent?
Foster parents can be young married couples, established families, empty-nesters, singles or grandparents from all ethnic and educational backgrounds. A family’s economic status will be reviewed as part of the qualification process, as you must be able to care for a child without it creating undue economic hardship.
What is required to become a foster parent?
Foster parents must show an adequate income to meet their needs, have appropriate living space that meets safety regulations, be fingerprinted for a criminal background clearance, and be in good physical and mental health with the stamina to care for children.
Is there a need for foster parents?
Yes! There is an ongoing shortage of available families in almost every area of the State of Montana. Some areas are in crisis, with few, to no families to care for children in need.
Do I need to be an American Citizen to offer foster care in my home?
Interested families must have a social Security Number.
What behaviors might I anticipate from a child removed from their family?
The common denominator for children in care is grief and loss, even when removed from very difficult and abusive circumstances. Additionally, children in care may also face emotional and psychological challenges as they try to adjust to new and often changeable environments. Children may exhibit signs of depression, aggression, fears, or withdrawal. It is important to be attuned to the child’s behaviors. Many services and supports are available to help you and the children
What is a background check and will I be fingerprinted?
Background checks are meant to protect children who have been neglected and/or abused. Your wish to help them walk a healthy path is an honorable thing and their safety going forward must be ensured. As part of the foster process you’ll undergo two checks. The first check is to look at your Child Protective Service (CPS) history. The licensing worker looks at any Child Protection history about you in Montana. If you have lived in a state other than Montana, the worker will also look at your history in the states you used to live. Every adult in your household will also have his/her history checked. You will be told if the worker finds anything that shows you or any person in your home might be a risk to children. The second check is of your criminal history. You and any adult household member will be asked to give fingerprints and information on any criminal history so that the licensing worker can make sure that any children placed in your home will be safe. A motor vehicle check will also be done.
What is a Home Study?
A home study is time spent in your home with the licensing worker. The study asks a lot of personal questions, but helps make sure that foster children will be taken good care of in your home and also helps the licensing worker find out what type of child would do well in your home. The home study helps both you and the worker understand issues that may impact your parenting style and skills. It is an important tool and most valuable to you if you embrace it as an opportunity for self-reflection. The study is done in private and all information is kept confidential.
What is the purpose of taking my foster child to visitations with their biological parents?
The primary goal of short term foster care is family reunification, whenever possible. The main goal of a family visit is for the child and birth parent to ultimately be reunified. Visitation allows social workers a glimpse into the family dynamic and the opportunity to see what is working and what is not working as a family unit. The workers can then make plans for change. Visits also allow for the parent to see that their child is being taken care of and for the child to see that their mom or dad is okay as well.
What supports exist for Foster Parents?
A variety of supports are generally available. These range from Support/Resource Groups and sharing with others on the same journey, mentor programs, engaging with family and friends, utilizing clinical supports and interventions such as therapists, case managers, in home services, etc. Please check with your social worker to determine the best needs and supports for your child. It is strongly recommended that a support program be put together for a child in a thoughtful and proactive fashion...especially if the child has been in care previous to joining your family.
If I foster a child can I still adopt?
Yes! Once a child’s parental rights have been terminated by a judge, that child can be adopted. For children who are in permanent legal custody (PLC) of the State, when no reunification is possible, these children must be fostered for at least six months by the adopting family prior to adoption.
How long does it take for the adoption process to finalize?
DCFS or the agency will place the child with the prospective adopting parents and will supervise the placement during the 6-month waiting period. After the waiting period, the adopting parents will file a petition for adoption. At that time, DCFS or the agency will file its consent to the adoption. DCFS or the agency can recommend that the adoption be finalized sooner than 6 months if the child has been in the home for at least 6 months before the adoptive placement and the post-placement evaluation is completed during that time; if there are extenuating circumstances; or if the child has been a foster child with the adopting parents for at least one year before the adoptive placement.
What is Kinship Foster CAre?
If you have a biological connection (grandparent, aunt/uncle, sister, brother, cousin, etc.) to a child who has been placed in State custody, you may wish to pursue kinship placement in order to care for the child. Requires 18 hours of training and a home study.
What is regular foster care?
As a regular foster care provider, you are typically a resource family for children who are entering care for the first time, or have been in care for a while. They often do not need a permanent home, as they are in a transitory state due to biological family issues that are unable to keep the child safe. Once these safety concerns are resolved, the goal is to reunite the child with their biological family. A child may remain in your care for days, weeks, months or years. Sometimes, however, these children become available for adoption if reunification isn’t possible and no relatives are able to be a permanent placement for the child. Foster parents are expected to provide for the physical and emotional needs of children placed in their home and provide a safe and stable home environment. Foster parents are expected to work closely with the child's protective services specialist. This type of foster home requires 18 hours of training and completion of the licensing process.
What is Child Specific Adoption?
f parental rights have been terminated, a child is in Permanent Legal Custody (PLC) of the state and available for adoption. You may identify a child in this situation via a Heart Gallery, Adopt US Kids, Child Bridge, etc. When you have interest in a child such as this, an introduction is made to the Child Protection Specialist who will begin discussions with you to determine whether your family may be a fit for the child’s needs. Based on needs and services required, the worker can guide you to the best path for licensing for the child. The placement process needs to be well thought out and extremely thorough (clear and honest communication about child’s needs, in depth home study discussions and self- reflection, etc.) to ensure the best fit, as a disrupted adoption can be more harmful to a child than multiple foster placements. Even if the child is PLC, all families must foster at least six months prior to adopting. This type of foster home requires at least 18 hours of training and completion of licensing process. An additional 15 hours of Therapeutic Training may be required dependent on if you are being licensed through a Therapeutic Child Placing Agency.
What is foster to Adopt?
You may start out in regular foster care with a child who is in Temporary Legal Custody (TLC) of the State. During your fostering, the child may come into Permanent Legal Custody (PLC) due to the inability of biological care givers to care appropriately for the child. Once parental rights are terminated, these children are available for adoption. CFSD must consider relatives for permanent placement prior to non-relative foster-adopt parents. If you are willing to adopt a child who has been in your home in foster care, it is called a concurrent placement. Requires 18 hours of training and completion of licensing process.
What is Therapeutic Foster Care?
While the State signs off on your license, you are licensed (and trained) by a child placing agency. TFC has clinical oversight involved because the child is eligible for a therapeutic level of service. The type of child that’s placed in TFC is a child that qualifies for a diagnosis that falls under Severely Emotionally Disturbed. These children are broken and hurt, resulting in behavioral and emotional issues that require supports for them and the family who cares for them. Attached to TFC is generally at least a couple of years of therapeutic wrap around services. So after you are licensed through an agency and a child is matched and placed with you, you will have a small team of people working with you and in your home generally at least once a week. Often, these children have been in care a very long time and in multiple placements and struggle to trust the care and control of a parent. In most cases, permanency is the goal for these children. Requires 33 hours of training and completion of the licensing process.
What is THerapeutic Respite Care?
Families caring for Severely Emotionally Disturbed children need a break in order to stay healthy and focused on the relationship! Being a Respite provider offers that much needed support. Respite is generally a short break such as a weekend. For some families having a regular respite provider offers tremendous help. Some Therapeutic Licensing Providers such as Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch and Intermountain, require respite providers to complete Therapeutic Foster Care Training. (33 hours)