Let’s say you wake up and decide you want to be a foster parent. Or God throws a brick at your head and says, hey you. You’re up. Here is a little taste if what we went through to become licensed.
(it’s foster care awareness month, in case you forgot.)
Step one: have an inkling. I had the brick throwing experience. My husband on the other hand, did not. I told him we needed to foster and he said, maybe you need to pray about it. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. NOTE: YOU BOTH NEED TO AGREE THAT YOU WANT TO DO THIS.
Step two: meet with DCS (in Indiana it’s the department of child services. Each state calls it something different.) I called our local DCS office and said I am thinking of becoming a foster parent. I was quickly routed to the recruiter/licensing specialist. We set up a meeting and a few short days later we were sitting across the table from a lady who was telling us how many children were in the system in our county and how few homes there were.
Step three: ask a ton of questions. That first meeting we asked all kinds of things. How long a child is usually in care, what kind of things we are responsible for paying for, how many will we be asked to take at a time, oh and Joe asked the ultra important questions such as can we spank (no) and can he take them hunting. (no). We learned a lot that day.
Step four: decide. I was all set from the first second I felt called to foster. That day we met with DCS we got back in the car and I waited to see how Joe felt. His response? There is no good reason NOT to foster. So it was on. A couple of days later we were signed up for foster parent training. Make sure you are doing it for the right reason. If you want to foster because you are going to get paid to do it, don’t. I promise you will not make any money. Kids are expensive.
Step five: go thru training. This is easy and it is hard. Ours here in Indiana was three sessions – three days all day Saturday. It’s a room full of future foster parents and a couple of trainers. The hard part is hearing about the horrors the future kids who are coming to live with you may face. The stats are startling, the stories are heartbreaking, the reasons to continue are abundant.
Step six: paperwork. Like the reasons to continue, the paperwork is abundant. You’ve got questions about why you want to foster, background checks for each county in each state you have lived in in the last six years (six for joe and I), personal family history, a family tree, a check on our water, dog vaccines. You name it, we told DCS about it.
Step seven: home study. This is where a nice lady comes and looks at your house. We had to show that there were not cleaning supplies in reach of the kids, that there were no exposed wires, or other harmful obstacles in our home and that all the guns are locked up. We also had to show her there were beds, and adequate space for kids. In Indiana each kid needs 50 square feet of living space. You answer a lot of the same questions you had to fill out earlier and go through all the paperwork you filled out. Then, like buying a house, you sign until you get a hand cramp.
Step eight: wait. Now the nice lady leaves and said she will have to write up the home study and will have it finished in about a month. So you shouldn’t get a call for placement for at least that long.
Step nine. The call. Now this is just our experience- we cant promise this for you- 5 days after being told that we wouldn’t get a call for a month, we got a call. When she called, I said but we are not licensed. She responded that we would be by the time the kids came.
Well that is about it. Everything after that will be for another post about what to do when you get the call.
What do you think? Could you do it? Are you thinking about it? Do you have any questions about the process? Hit the comment section.