How great is the need for foster parents?
Can we choose the age or gender of the foster child placed in our home?
How long might a foster child stay in our home?
Is it possible to adopt foster children?
How long will it take to have child(ren) placed with me/us?
Does a foster child need a separate bedroom all to himself/herself?
May the foster child go to the school near our home?
Am I allowed to discipline a foster child?
Who pays for the child’s medical costs?
Can we take a foster child with us on vacation?
Is there an opportunity to take a break from caring for a foster child?
Will we see or meet the birth parents of the child placed in our home?
Will I be reimbursed for the cost of caring for a foster child?
What support services does LFS provide?
How long will it take to get our foster home license/certified?
How great is the need for foster parents? On any given day in Colorado there are between 3,000 and 5,000 children in out of home placement. There is a never-ending need for caring foster parents who can provide safe, nurturing homes for children.
Can we choose the age or gender of the foster child placed in our home? Yes. Through the extensive questionnaires and paperwork that you complete and through personal interviews with our staff, you are encouraged to evaluate the type of child that you are best equipped for and provide a home for. Throughout this process you may select an age range, ethnicity, gender and types of behaviors that you will feel best prepared to parent. In addition, our agency will provide ongoing training that may expand your confidence in dealing with challenging behaviors of some children. After you are certified, when one of our staff calls to discuss a possible child placement with you, we encourage you to ask any questions. We will provide you with all of the information we have about the child and work with you in creating the best possible fit for a child in your home.
How long might a foster child stay in our home? This varies by circumstances and individual cases. An “average” stay of a child through Lutheran Family Services’ foster care program could be six months to eighteen months. A child’s stay in your home could range from two days to a lifetime, depending on the child’s needs and your family’s plans and capacities. Again, throughout the training, screening and assessment process that take place between you and our staff, we ask you to give serious thought to your motivation in providing foster care.
Is it possible to adopt foster children? In some cases. A permanent, loving home is the goal for each and every child. If a child becomes eligible for adoption and there are no known relatives available, the foster parents can be considered first. Reunification is the primary goal for every child.
How long will it take to have a child(ren) placed with me/us? After you receive your foster home certification you may be anxious for a child to be placed quickly. You have already committed much time and energy toward this end. First, it is very important to understand that the placement process is not on a “first come, first serve basis.” Matches between a foster child’s needs and a foster family’s strengths are carefully made. The hope and expectation is that this will prevent having to move the child to a different foster home. Flexibility around gender, age range, ethnicity and behaviors is also a factor. In addition, placements can occur more quickly if your family can parent a sibling group of two or more children.
Does a foster child need a separate bedroom all to himself/herself? No. A foster child must have at least 40 square feet of bedroom space, so a bedroom that measures 8ft. by 10ft., not counting closet space, can accommodate two children. However, each foster child must have his or her own separate bed or crib, with sheets and coverings. Children cannot share beds. Also, bedroom space must be planned so that children over four years of age are not sharing bedrooms with children of the opposite gender over four years of age. Children ages 5 years and younger need to be on the same floor as foster parents or have a monitoring device.
May the foster child go to the school near our home? Yes. It is most common for foster families to enroll their children in their neighborhood school. There may be occasional exceptions if it is very close to the end of a semester and the caseworker, case manager and the foster parents can arrange to allow the child to finish the semester in his/her current school. Another exception may be made if a child were receiving special education services that require the school to transport the child to and from another school where those special services would be provided.
Am I allowed to discipline a foster child? Lutheran Family Services is committed to providing loving, constructive home environments for children in need of foster care. Discipline, by definition, means “to teach.” The approach to disciplining, or teaching, children may include talking with the child about the situation, positive reinforcement, giving choices, guiding the child to solve his or her own problem, diversion, separation from the problem situation and withholding of privileges. Disciplinary measures shall not deny the basic rights of a child. Physical hitting or physical punishment of any form is not allowed.
Who pays for the child’s medical costs? Foster children who enter our program are covered by Medicaid insurance. This covers their basic medical costs to include dental and vision. It does not cover such items as orthodontics (braces). You will receive information from the assigned case manager at the time a child is placed with you on how to access Medicaid coverage for this child.
Can we take a foster child with us on vacation? Usually. Foster families are encouraged to make the foster child a part of regular family activities, and vacations are a very enriching experience for the children. When a foster child is taken out of the state of Colorado, however, the foster family must first get a written travel authorization form signed by the county department of human services.
Is there an opportunity to take a break from caring for a foster child? Yes. All of our licensed families are able to provide “respite care” for foster children in their homes, availability depends on family schedules. We also allow an approved adult to provide respite in your home. This allows foster parents to take an evening or a weekend off, knowing that their foster child is in good hands.
Will we see or meet the birth parents of the child placed in our home? The situation is different for each child and foster family. Many birth parents do have an opportunity to meet foster parents at scheduled visits or meetings. Foster families will receive all necessary information prior to these visits and are expected to transport children to and from a visitation site or meeting place.
Will I receive compensation for my work as a foster parent? Yes. The rate of reimbursement varies, depending on the child’s individual needs. Typically, the reimbursement rate is determined prior to the child being placed in the foster home. The referring county caseworker and the LFS staff review the child’s special needs and the payment amount is determined.
What support services does Lutheran Family Services provide? When a child is placed in foster care through Lutheran Family Services, a case manager is assigned to arrange placement and coordinate all aspects of the child’s case. The case manager sees the child regularly, usually in the home. LFS staff are available to foster families 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency consultation and services.
Foster children will continue to have County Department of Human Services caseworkers who are legally responsible for monitoring their placement. This worker will track the delivery of services by Lutheran Family Services as well as the progress of the case with birth families and the courts.
How long will it take to get our foster home license/certification? It depends! Before a family can be certified, the adults must complete 29 hours of precertification training provided by our staff. Also, prior to certification, foster families must complete a significant amount of paperwork – including an application, medical forms, fingerprints, background checks and a state approved home study.
Only after all of the above steps are completed satisfactorily is a foster home certificate issued. Potential foster parents who are clear about their goals and motivation and who can complete the paperwork and training as quickly as possible could possibly be licensed within three to six months of their inquiry.