foster/adoptive parent frequently asked questions

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Youth Advocate Services

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Promoting Positive Futures

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One of the keys to foster parenting is starting out with the information you need to make decisions about the way in which you wish to work with children in crisis.  These are answers to some of the questions that prospective foster parents often ask. 

What are the foster children like?
The children with whom you will work as a foster parent come with a variety of challenging issues.  Most of the children in our agency have been removed from their homes and are struggling with the trauma of separation from friends, family, and familiar surroundings.  Many of our foster children also come with other issues that will need your nurturing support.  These issues vary from child to child, but can include struggles in school, anger management, behavior control issues, mental health issues, and developmental issues.  In the process of becoming a foster parent, you will have the opportunity to identify the types of children with whom you are willing to work.

What ages are foster children?
Our agency works with children of all ages from 0-18 years.  Currently, our agency most frequently receives requests to place teenage girls and boys and sibling groups of two to five younger children.

Where do foster children “come from”?
Most children are placed in foster care because they have been removed from their homes by the courts due to safety issues.  The most common safety issues involve abuse or neglect occurring in the child’s home.  Custody of foster children is usually held by the county children services agency in which the child resides.  Youth Advocate Services works with the custodial agency to place children in your home and provide support services specified by the child’s case plan.  The county children services agency usually maintains custody during the time a child is in a foster home.

What, exactly, is "Treatment Foster Care?"
Treatment Foster Care is considered a specialized type of foster care which provides a higher level of service to children who have greater needs.  These special needs can include mental health issues, behavior issues, learning disabilities, difficulties in school, emotional and social struggles, medical issues, and developmental delays.  Usually, treatment foster children need to be linked with special services.  Treatment foster parents are expected to help their children participate in services deemed necessary by the members of the treatment team.  This could mean taking a foster child to therapy appointments, or making sure the foster child is available for home-based services.  Most importantly, treatment foster care means the foster parent will maintain a home environment that is therapeutic in nature, and provide structure and activities that help meet the needs of the child.  The foster parent will also participate in training and education that will improve their skills in meeting the needs of their foster children.

How long would a foster child stay in my home?
The length of stay can vary a great deal and is unique to each child.  Our agency has had children in foster care for a few days up to eight years.  The national average stay for foster children in 2016-2017 was a little over fourteen months (1 year, 2 months) but our agency experienced only a 12 month average stay (1 year) during the same time. Currently, our agency average stay for foster children is 11 months (less than 1 year).   

How much will I have to work with foster children’s birth families?
The amount of work foster parents do with birth families varies depending on each child’s situation.  A child’s initial case plan can call for a number of different visitation arrangements.  Sometimes there will be no visitation initially.  Often, there will be supervised visits with case workers present.  Whatever the arrangements, foster parents are expected to help make sure a foster child is able to have appropriate contact with birth families.  The safety of the child and foster parents is always a primary consideration in these arrangements.  Foster parents are not expected to be therapists for birth parents.  Still, in the best of circumstances, foster and birth families should be able to work together and support each other in ways that produce the best outcomes for everyone, especially the child.

What if I am interested in adopting a foster child?
Youth Advocate Services has several foster parents who have adopted children that were initially placed in their homes as foster children.  YAS’ pre-adoption services support those who are interested in adopting through the Foster Care System by providing individual and family therapy, clinical case management, the necessary parent training to prepare them for adoption as well as providing a thorough adoption home study. A contract-for-services is available for children and youth adopted privately. Should you choose to, we welcome you to continue to be a foster parent with YAS even after you adopt another child through foster care.

Can I only be a respite parent?
Yes, you can.  Becoming a licensed foster parent allows you the flexibility to do a variety of parenting activities.  You can provide long-term care to a foster child.  You can provide respite care to foster children placed in other homes in our agency.  This can mean giving foster parents a “weekend break.”  It can also mean working with foster children while foster parents are on a vacation.  Our foster homes can also provide Emergency Shelter Care (ESC).  This is a special placement program where children are placed in a home on an emergency basis for 30 to 45 days.  It is important that ESC foster parents are flexible and resourceful.

How long does it take to become a foster parent?
The licensing process includes orientation training, several background checks, and a home study which involves meetings with an assessor, some in-depth conversations, and inspection of your home.  In general, most families complete this process in about four months.  However, YAS recognizes that each prospective family is different, so we will move at your pace.

Why should I be a foster parent?  How will it help me?
Most people come to foster parenting with a sense of calling to help others.  Foster parenting helps you answer that deeply-felt sense that your gifts and blessings need to be shared with others.  Foster parenting is also a great gift to the community in which you live.  It is a way for you to take responsibility for the fact that we are all connected to one another.  Helping another person helps the world become a better place for everyone.  Most importantly, though, foster parenting is a way to give to a child in need.  There is no greater reward than seeing a child experience good things in life. Foster parenting helps the most vulnerable children experience some of those good things.  It is often said that the measure of our humanity is the way we treat our children.  Foster parenting is a way of being a true humanitarian.

Speak with YAS about beginning
your journey today

Our Intake & Recruitment Specialist would be happy to discuss the process with you and answer all of your questions.

Crystal Gilbert


M-F 9am-5pm

Or feel free to fill out this information request form and Crystal will contact you.​​