What is foster care?
Foster care is a temporary placement for children outside of their own home. The goal of foster care is to provide the child a safe, nurturing, and stable temporary environment until they are able to return to their own homes.
Why are children placed in foster homes?
Children are placed in foster homes when their families can no longer keep them safe and healthy. Some families struggle with substance abuse, homelessness, lack of extended supports, mental illness, or incarceration - these factors hinder a family’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing home.
Who are the children in foster care?
The children in foster care are children in need of safe, loving, and healthy homes. The children we support are 0-18 years old and come from various socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. Sometimes there might be one child or a sibling group of four. These children have experienced trauma from abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or even drug-exposure. These children are the children in our communities.
What are the requirements to become a licensed foster parent?
You must be at least 21 years of age, a legal US resident, and have sufficient income to manage your household. Other requirements will include a home and family assessment by a social worker, training about foster care issues and processes, background checks, a physical, fire inspection of your home, and a few more hoops that we will jump through together. A New Leaf staff will assist you and your family with each step.
How long does the process take?
Once the application is completed and returned to our offices, the process will officially begin. This could take up to six months to complete - but the time frame depends on individual schedules and the ability to obtain needed documents to fulfill the requirements. But remember… agency staff will assist you with the process.
How do I know if my home is large enough to be licensed?
The specific size of a home is not regulated, but where children sleep, eat, and play are. As an example, state rules require that everyone have their own bed, the home must have heat, lights, a working bathroom and smoke alarms on each level. There are other rules that will be reviewed during the assessments and the training.
Do I have to be married?
No. Foster parents can be single, married, divorced, or widowed. A New Leaf needs foster parents of every age (above 21), race, sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin. We need foster parents.
What about medical insurance for the child, will I have to provide it?
Each child who is in foster care is provided with a Medical Card and/or has insurance through his/her parent for purposes of medical, dental, counseling, and optical services.
How will I pay for all the other expenses for the child?
Foster parents receive a daily reimbursement, which is provided every two weeks, to care for each child in their home. This money is not taxed, and is used to reimburse the provision of food, shelter, clothing, community/family/school activities, personal care items, transportation for needed appointments and visits the child may have with his/her family. This list is not all inclusive, but it gives a general idea.
Can I decide the age or gender of the child that lives in my home?
Yes. As part of the licensing process, you and your social worker will decide together the characteristics of the potential child that would best match your family. Prior to a child living in your home, you will be provided with information regarding his/her background (to include, but not limited to the child’s environmental, behavioral, educational, medical, and family history) and you will be able to decide if the child would match your family’s characteristics. It is a decision that your family makes.
Can I adopt a foster child who lives in my home?
The primary goal of foster care is to reunify the child with his/her family. If the child cannot return to his/her home or relatives cannot take the child, the foster parent can be considered as adoptive parents. But the first goal in foster care is to reunify the child with their family.
What kind of supports will I receive from A New Leaf as a foster parent?
Each of our foster homes is assigned to a case manager. Our staff is bachelor and/or master level professionals. Your case manager will provide you with support, assist you with seeking services, and will visit your home twice a month. Your agency case manager is your direct line.
We also provide:
• 24 hours on-call services for emergencies
• Respite care
• Ongoing clothing vouchers (3 times per year
• Emergency clothing vouchers
• Initial Cribs and Car seats
• Agency Outings and Events
• Support, Respect, and the promise that we will listen to each foster parent and child with our agency.
What exactly is respite and do I have to get licensed to provide respite?
Respite is an overnight stay at another licensed foster parent’s home. Both sets of foster parents will be reimbursed, per child, per day. Many of the newly licensed foster parents will “get their feet wet” by providing respite services for the other foster parents in the agency. Respite can be used for a special adult night out, family emergency, or just to take a break. As parents, A New Leaf recognizes that we all could use some time for ourselves.