Frequently Asked Questions about Foster Care
Here are the questions we get asked most often about becoming a foster parent. If you have more questions or want to discuss becoming a foster parent, contact us!
What is foster care?
Foster Care is a temporary home for children and youth who need out-of-home care due to abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment. The goal of foster care is to provide a safe, stable, and loving home to children who have been removed from their home. In addition, foster families are committed to working with biological families to help reunite children with their parents, when possible.
Why are children placed in foster care and for how long?
Often, children who experience abuse or neglect are placed in foster care to protect them and prevent further harm. Sometimes, a child is placed in care if they have needs that their parents/caregivers are unable to meet.
The average length of stay for a child in a non-relative foster home is greater than 1 year. That doesn’t mean that every foster child placed in your home will stay for a year, though. In some cases, the child may remain only for a night or two; in other situations, they may need a foster home for a year or more. We need committed foster parents who can provide a loving, safe environment for the child, regardless of how long they are in your home.
Different types of fostering opportunities can allow for flexible time commitments. If you can’t commit to full-time foster care, respite may be a great option for you.
Who are the children most in need of foster care?
Right now, in Kansas, there is a great need for foster homes for teenagers and sibling groups of all ages. There is also a demand for families to work with minority groups.
How long does it take to become licensed and what is the cost to me?
On average, 9-12 weeks. This can vary depending on how quickly background checks are received from local and out-of-state offices, and how quickly prospective foster parents complete necessary documentation and training.
The cost for the required training is covered by DCCCA. You will be responsible for the cost of medical appointments to have your doctor complete health screening forms for all household members. There could be some additional costs of items associated with the home meeting licensing standards (i.e. electric covers, smoke detectors). This will be determined upon the initial walkthrough of the home.
Do foster parents get paid?
Foster families receive bi-monthly monthly reimbursements for the care of children placed in their home. The amount paid is based on a daily rate that is determined by the level of care that the child requires.
We expect foster parents will use their monthly payments for expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, recreation, allowance, gifts, day care, and other necessities.
Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, but you must have a residence. You can be a foster parent if you live in an apartment, duplex, condominium, single-family home, or mobile home. It just needs to meet state safety standards and have enough additional bedroom space for every household member, plus foster children.
How old do I have to be to become a foster parent?
The minimum age to become a foster parent in Kansas is 21.
Can people who are gay/lesbian be foster parents?
Yes! We are happy to discuss any unique characteristics your family may have and how they may impact your role as a foster family. DCCCA does not have any restrictions based on ethnicity, marital status, or sexual orientation.
I am single, can I become a foster parent?
Yes! Foster parents may be married, single, in a relationship, widowed, or divorced.
I don’t have biological children but want to become a foster parent. Is that allowed?
Yes! Even people who have never parented before can provide stable, nurturing care for foster children. Don’t worry about not knowing how to be a parent – you will receive plenty of training prior to licensing, and DCCCA will assign a foster family Specialist you can consult with to get advice.
If I have a disability or illness, will that prevent me from being a foster parent?
This depends on your condition and its impact on your ability to parent children with special needs. Having a disability or illness will not necessarily exclude you from being a licensed foster family. But, because each disability or illness may impact individuals differently, it is best to consult with our licensing Specialist to determine if fostering is an option for you at this time.
I have a criminal record. Can I become a foster parent?
Depending on the nature of the crime, you may be disqualified from obtaining a foster family license. Please contact us to determine the effect your record will have on your application. Screening requirements include:
- Kansas Bureau of Investigation name checks, and Child and Adult abuse registry checks for every member in the home 10 and older
- Fingerprints for every member in the home 14 and older
- Out of state background checks for every member in the home 18 and older
- Driving record checks for the foster parents
- Safety inspection of the foster home
Do I have to be rich to become a foster parent?
There is not a set income that foster parents need, but they must have a self-sustaining, stable income. The household income should be sufficient to cover all of your family’s financial expenses.
I am currently unemployed, can I become a full-time foster parent?
If you are not employed but have a stable income source (such as retirement, SSDI benefits, Social Security, trust fund, etc.), you may apply to be a licensed foster parent. The household income should be sufficient to cover all of your family’s financial expenses.
If you are receiving temporary aid, such as unemployment, TANF, or other welfare assistance, then you should delay your application until you have a steady income from gainful employment or another source of non-assistance income. It could be 3 weeks after from the time you accept a placement until you receive reimbursement, so it is important to have financial reserves to cover the cost of caring for a foster child or sibling group.
How much space do I need in my home to foster?
Your home will need adequate space for each foster child and their possessions. Each bedroom used by a foster child needs to be at least 70 square feet for one child or 45 square feet per child for more than one child in a room. Each child must have their own bed. Foster children can share a room with your own children as long as that is deemed appropriate. Foster children sharing a room should be within 3 years of each other and once a child is 5 years old, they must share a room with children of the same gender. Additionally, unless a child is under the age of one-year, foster children cannot share a bedroom with their foster parents. In order for a child under 12 months to share a bedroom with the foster parents, the bedroom must be 130 square feet.
We are animal lovers! What are the restrictions on pets in a foster home?
If you have dogs or cats you are required to keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Other pets are also allowable, but only if they are not known to be vicious or potentially harmful to children (or workers entering the home). If you have a vicious pet in your home and you are reluctant to remove them, you should delay becoming a licensed foster family.
Do I have a choice in which children are placed into my home?
Yes! At DCCCA we match our foster children to the family’s identified preferences so that we can ensure the best possible experience for both the foster parents and the child. When we contact you regarding a child, we will provide you with as much information as possible so that you can make the best, well-informed decision for your family.
How many foster children are placed into my home?
State regulations do not allow for there to be more than 6 kids under 16 in the foster home. The maximum number of children a family can license for is 4. The number of children that will be placed in your home will also be dependent upon many different circumstances:
- The number of children you are open to being matched with at one time
- The age of the children
- The number of children your home and vehicles can safely hold
- The number of children (biological/adopted) who currently live in your home.
- Some placements will require special permissions, extra visits, or extra supports that may affect the number of children that will be placed in your home at one time
Who pays for childcare/daycare? And where should I start to find a childcare provider?
Finding a substitute caregiver (babysitter, daycare provider, etc.) is the responsibility of the foster parent. Child Care Aware can help you identify a substitute care provider for your foster child.
Once a child is in the foster home, the foster parents can submit the application for Foster Care Child Care (FCCC) assistance. The childcare provider does have to accept EBT payment from DCF. If you are unable to locate childcare that accepts the EBT payment, there is an exception process to request approval.
What medical insurance is available for foster children?
Foster children are Medicaid eligible and can receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health services at no cost.
What kinds of supports does DCCCA offer their families?
Every family receives support through respite, foster care reimbursement, training, and 24-hour crisis support. We assign a Specialist to each foster home who will be able to provide support to your family. Other planned supports may be available based on the specific child’s needs including individual and family therapy through DCCCA. DCCCA also has the ability of pairing new foster homes with a mentor foster family.
I’ve heard it’s more difficult to foster a teenager than a young child. Is that true?
Just as with biological children, every age will bring challenges and accomplishments. Some families will find younger children easier to parent; believe it or not, some foster parents prefer older children and teens! Teens need love and guidance as much as younger children, and most are eager for a stable, supportive home with a responsible parent and positive role model. Teens may need help with transitioning to life after foster care, such as learning life skills (cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.) or help applying for housing or college. No matter what the child’s age, every child deserves the opportunity to live in a safe, loving environment where they can thrive.
Will having foster children in my home impact our family dynamic?
Yes, your family dynamic will be impacted by foster children – but this is not necessarily a negative! Integrating a foster child into your home for any period may require your family to adjust their daily schedules, weekend plans, method of communicating, and expectations for behavior. We cover this extensively in foster parent training, as it is a concern for many prospective foster parents. Remember, you will have the support of your DCCCA specialist as well.
Can I adopt a foster child in my home?
The primary goal for a child in foster care is to be successfully reunified with their family of origin. In cases where children are unable to return to their family, their permanency plan may change to adoption. When this happens, the foster parent has the right to be considered as a pre-adoptive family and the opportunity to file for adoption. However – and we cannot emphasize this enough: foster parents are expected to support the goal of reunification and work with the child’s team for the best possible outcome for that child. Adoption is not usually the goal from the outset.
Will I be required to work with the foster child’s biological family?
The goal of foster care is for a child to acquire security and permanency as soon as possible; this often includes reunification with their biological family. We encourage “icebreaker meetings” in which biological families and foster families meet to exchange information about the child.
What does the phrase “Bridge” mean when referring to foster care?
Bridging is a term used to describe the foster parents’ collaboration with the biological family to ensure the overall wellbeing and care of the child. Bridging includes keeping connections to family, culture, and community. Bridging is meant to reduce the amount of trauma a child in the foster care system experiences, while increasing the chances of permanency.
What are the expectations of foster parents?
- Complete pre-service training and ongoing annual trainings
- Provide supervision, protection, and care to the foster child
- Respect and encourage the child’s and birth parents’ rights, values, and beliefs
- Provide positive parental role modeling to empower the child and birth parents
- Provide transportation (as appropriate)
- Teach life skills
- Participate in case planning and be an active member of the treatment team
- Maintain medical records
- Meet medical and behavioral needs
- Provide for personal, behavioral, social, spiritual, and medical needs of the foster child
- Encourage participation in appropriate activities (educational, socialization, personal growth)
- Maintain clean and safe home conditions
- Report all concerns/problems to your worker in a timely manner
- Update DCCCA worker on all changes with the child and/or foster family status
- Establish and maintain effective working relationship with foster child, birth parents, DCCCA, or placing agency workers, law enforcement, related community agencies, and the general public
- Prepare and cooperate with plans to transition children into another placement as determined by the case plan or court order
Can I enroll the foster child in my school district?
Yes. Best practice to reduce trauma for children in foster care is to allow them to remain in their current schools, but that is not always an option. If a child matched and placed in your home can not attend their previous school, you will need to immediately enroll them in the school district in which your family resides. No school or lunch fees are required.
Once I’m licensed, does my license expire?
Every 12 months a foster home must complete a license renewal application. Each foster parent must have completed a minimum of 8 hours of ongoing training prior to the renewal due date.