How to become a foster parent?

All types of foster parents are needed. Being a successful foster parent is hard work and it requires opening yourself and your home. Yet, foster parenting can be some of the most gratifying work you will ever consider. The heart of it is working with children and their families. Foster care also involves partnering with social workers, schools and community resources to meet a child’s needs. All types of people make good foster parents as we all have our own special talents, but keep in mind that foster parenting is not for everyone. If your family is thinking of foster care, contact an Homeward Society social worker at 714-642-5215 to get more information.

Foster Parent Qualifications

The key qualification is being able to meet the physical, emotional and developmental needs of a child. Homeward Society will help you evaluate whether this is something you might be able to do through a training process that helps you and our agency evaluate your capabilities. In addition, we would expect that you meet the following:

  • Provide 24-hour care and supervision on a daily basis
  • Be able to care for yourself financially without the child’s stipend
  • Be flexible, patient and understanding
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Have a home free of fire and safety hazards
  • Complete a criminal/protective services background check
  • Have the ability to work as a member of a team

Both single and dual-parent families make great foster parents and we also welcome same-sex partners as foster parents.

Becoming Licensed/Certified

Foster parent applicants must be licensed or approved in order to provide care for children. The licensing process requires certain steps:

Step 1: Find a Phone Number or an Email Address

Contact Homeward Society Foster Family Agency though our agency website at  (www.homewardsociety.org) and discover more about foster care.

Step 2: Make the Call

Once you made the phone call, a Homeward Society representative will ask for personal information such as your name, address and phone number so they may send information about our agency and the licensing/certification process. They may also discuss your motivation and their need for foster families.

Step 3: Initial Meeting

Schedule an information meeting. Homeward Society will present an overview of the role and responsibilities of foster parents. Information will also be given about the agency’s need for foster parents and the type of children we serve in foster care. We may schedule an appointment in your home for the initial meeting. Similar introductory information will be provided, and we will begin to gather information about you.

Whether you attend an information meeting at the agency or meet in your home, the first meeting will likely end with the a Homeward Society worker giving you an application and forms to complete in addition to providing you with  a copy of the state foster care licensing rules and regulations.

Step 4: Exploring Your Interests and Capabilities

The licensing process is designed to help both you and our agency. While the process may vary, it always has two equally important purposes:

  1. to help you, as a family, determine whether foster care is the right thing for your family, and to assess the children you might best serve.
  2. to help the Homeward Society determine whether you meet the requirements for licensure and to help us understand which children would be the best fit with your family.

Step 5: Family Assessment

The family assessment involves gathering information about each member of your family and formally assessing your capability to care for children. We will ask you to complete a social history and several questionnaires. In addition, the licensing worker will ask you many questions about your childhood, relationships and interests. The assessment is extensive — but usually not difficult — and gives you an opportunity to think about yourself, your interests and your motivations.

Our initial family assessment isconducted with a foster parent orientation and trainings. Our curriculum is based on the Parents Resources for Information Development Education (PRIDE) provided by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), which provide a formal process for the assessment. Homeward Society requires a minimum of 24 hours of foster parent education/training to become certified. Once you are certified,  you will be required to attend 12 hours per year to continue your certification. These ongoing training can be done in your home, at our office and/or at various locations in the community.

Step 6: References

Our agency will ask you to provide four references. These should be people who know you and can help us assess your capabilities and interests. TheHomeward Society recruitment worker will either mail the references a form to complete, or will conduct a phone interview. Once completed, your references will be kept confidential.

Step 7: Background Checks

The background checks are a formal review of your criminal and child protection history. It will require fingerprints and an authorization for the agency to check your background. The fingerprints and authorization are used to check local, state and FBI databases. A previous arrest or conviction does not automatically prohibit one from providing foster care. It depends on the charges and when they took place. The background check is important to ensure that people with a history of potentially harming children are not licensed.

Step 6: Home Safety Check

Our agency is required to look at your house or apartment to determine that it is safe for children. We will do a walk-through of your home witha safety checklist to help protect you and all members of your family. Almost all problems identified by the checklist can be fixed. In some instances, homes will need to be inspected by a fire marshal. I CANNOT UNBOLD THIS…

Step 7: Orientation and Pre-Service Training

Our agency requires 24  hours of training before you can become licensed or before a child is matched with your family. This includes First Aid and CPR training as part of the pre-service requirements. The orientation should include information about how best to work with our agency as well as information about caring for children with special needs.

Step 8: Foster Parent Certification

At the end of the study process, the Homeward Society recruitment worker will complete a written report with recommendations. The recommendations will generally include information about the children that might be best for your family, as well as areas of training you might need. Our agency will also submit the appropriate forms to the licensing agency in order to have the license issued. In most states they cannot place children in your home until the actual license has been issued. Once certified, your contact information and the type of child that fits your home best will be forward to the Orange County Social Services Agency, Placement Unit and a match will be made. Your next step will be meeting the child to determine if you are a fit for each other. If a match is made, the placement process begins.