Foster Parent FAQ’s

Posted on May 7th, 2015

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize the contributions of foster parents and the role that each of us plays in improving the lives of children and youth in foster care.

Here are some Questions & Answers about being a Foster Parent and our friends at The Villages. If you would like to find out more information on being a Foster Parent and/or the Villages please go to www.villages.org.

Little Boy Lacing his Shoes

1. What are the benefits of becoming a foster parent?
What value can you place on a changed life? Helping a child maneuver life’s transitions to become a stable adult capable of creating a positive future for themselves and others can change the world! Our nation and our communities are affected by the choices we make toward these children in need. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As a foster parent, you can know that you were a part of that cure!

2. What are the requirements to be licensed as foster parents?

  • Have a heart for children.
  • 21 years of age or older (either single or a couple).
  • Pass a physical examination (including a Mantoux TB test).
  • Provide positive references.
  • Pass a criminal history and background check, including a fingerprint-based national criminal history.
  • Work with a Villages’ social worker on several home visits and interviews. The social worker then writes a preparation summary (commonly referred to as a home study). This is a comprehensive history and assessment of your current family life and past experiences affecting your capacity to parent a foster child. This helps the social worker better determine what type of child might do best in your home.
  • Have home visits that focus on safety issues such as wiring, fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
  • Meet state licensing requirements including completion of a pre-service training program (30 hours of initial training, spread over several sessions, at your closest Villages’ regional office). Click here to see The Villages’ training schedule for offices across Indiana.
  • Complete training in First Aid and CPR
  • Maintain and broaden your skill base by attending ongoing training.

3. What type of training will I receive to become a foster parent?
Local training opportunities and ongoing support from staff are available throughout your preparation and tenure as a foster parent.

4. What are some characteristics of children in foster care?
The average age of children at admission into foster care is 10 years old. Children of all ethnicities, including Caucasian, African-American and Latino, as well as children who are bi-racial, are served by our programs. Foster families are especially needed for teenagers and sibling groups.

5. Where do these foster children come from?
The Villages accepts referrals from county Department of Child Services offices, the Department of Corrections, juvenile courts, the Department of Education, mental health centers and other private agencies.

6. What issues will I encounter as a foster parent?
A child’s troubled background usually manifests itself in a variety of ways. Foster parents should be prepared to deal with behaviors like bed-wetting, lying and rebellion. With time, you will see these behaviors change and receive the joy of knowing that you helped change the course of that child’s life and all who he or she will touch.

7. Can I take a break from fostering?
Foster parents get paid respite days during which a respite family cares for the child, allowing the foster family an occasional break. Foster parents also work with a team of caring professionals at The Villages that can help them with all aspects of their family life.

8. How long does it take to get a foster child placed in my home?
In most cases, The Villages will recommend you be licensed as a foster parent/family upon the completion of your training. The amount of time required to complete this process varies from family to family, but averages four to six months. The Villages will then match you with an appropriate foster child for your situation. The time this requires varies as much as the kids coming into care.

9. How long will foster children stay in my care, and why will they leave?
The average length of stay for a foster child is approximately seven months; however, each case is unique. Children generally leave their foster homes for more permanent placements, including reunification with the child’s own family, becoming legally independent and adoption.

10. Do foster parents get any financial compensation for caring for a foster child?
Foster parents receive a stipend that will reimburse them for their child’s expenses. Reimbursement checks are based upon the needs of the child. However, the state requires proof that your current family’s financial needs are being met prior to this additional income.

11. How are medical and dental costs met for foster children?
Foster parents are not responsible for medical expenses. Medicaid covers most expenses, while others utilize a voucher system.

12. What kind of support can I expect from The Villages?
The Villages believes that foster parents are an integral part of the treatment team. You will receive a visit from a social worker no less than twice a month, and that social worker will act as your representative to others involved in the child’s treatment plan. The Villages social worker assigned to your family is accessible 24 hours a day for additional support and guidance. Foster parents actively participate in monthly support group activities.

13. How does being a foster parent affect our income tax?
The daily reimbursement is not considered taxable income.

14. Is it possible to adopt a foster child?
Often, adoption is an option for foster parents. In fact, about one-fourth of the children placed in foster care are later adopted by their foster parents. Foster children are often classified as “special needs” adoptions.