Many families today who would like to adopt a child are becoming Foster/Adoptive Parents. They are willing to take children temporarily placed in foster homes through the Juvenile Courts. You must be willing to adopt the foster child/children should the parent(s) not reunify. These are children who have been removed from their biological parent(s). The parents are required to participate successfully in reunification services to get their children returned to them. The court has legislated mandates with strict time limits for the parents to reunify with their children. The Legislature does not want foster children languishing in foster homes.
What do you have to do to become a foster parent?
1. Apply for and obtain a Foster Home license. Call your local Health and Human Service Agency or licensed Foster Family Agency in your area to sign up for an orientation;
2. There is a 27-hour Pre-Service training called Trauma Informed Pre-Service required to become a Foster/Adoptive Parent. Each licensed County Foster/Adoptive Parent must also complete 8 hours of approved training per year.
3. After you finish Pre-Service, you will be assigned an Adoption Social Worker. That worker will tell you which of the adoption preparation classes you should complete. Stay in regular touch with your social worker for placement of foster children with you.
4. If a foster child/children are placed with you, fully cooperate with the social worker assigned to the case. Follow their advice regarding taking care of the foster child regarding how to interact with the birth parents and visitations by the birth parents. Follow the court orders. Do not bend the rules for the birth parents unless cleared by your social worker.
5. Take a class called Know the Regulations Avoid Losing Your License. This is a very important class for a foster parent. The worst thing that can happen to you is an allegation of improper conduct or violation of the foster home rules which could cause you to lose your foster child just as you are believing you have a good chance of adopting the foster child. Please review our prior blogs: Foster Parents Beware: No Physical Discipline of Foster Children and Contest the Removal of a Wrongly Removed Foster Child.
By adopting through the Juvenile Court system and having the services of Health and Human Services or the Adoption Agency you are working with, you will save yourself thousands of dollars. You will not have to worry about hiring a lawyer to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents, pay the adoption fee, pay the costs for the adoption filing and court appearances, and pay for a home evaluation.
As a foster parent and adoptive parent, you are entitled to assistance from the County and Federal Government. In California should problems develop with your adopted child you are entitled to Adoption Home Services which can provide for residential placement and counseling services. Your adopted child, since he or she is adopted through the Juvenile Court Dependency system, will be eligible for AB12 benefits for college and living expenses. Please review our previous blogs on Financial Assistance for Foster Parents and Foster Children and Financial Help for College for Adopted Foster Youth.