Who are the children in foster care?
Children in foster care are first and foremost, children. They are like any other children you know; they like to play and have friends. They laugh and love. Children in foster care have sometimes encountered very difficult situations, related to abuse and/or neglect, in their birth home. Often they come from families who struggle with substance abuse and domestic violence. Children who have experienced these struggles in their home sometimes have emotional, medical or developmental problems or delays. They can experience depression, anxiety, fear and anger; both due to their experience in their birth home, and due to being removed from their parents. Foster parents are needed to care for children who cannot safely be placed with their parents or family members. These children are of all ages, all ethnic backgrounds and all economic backgrounds.
Like all children, foster children need stability, comfort and routine. Foster parents play a role in ensuring the children are safe, nurtured to grow and thrive, and experience a sense of belonging and permanency in a world that may seem confusing.
Foster parents for all children are needed, however, foster parents are especially needed for:
• Older children and teenagers
• Children with special medical needs and who may be medically fragile
• Children with special emotional, developmental and/or educational needs
• Drug exposed infants
• Sibling groups
• Pregnant and/or parenting youth
As a foster parent, you can specify the age and gender of children that would best fit with your family. Some foster parents prefer to work with teenage children or sibling groups, while others do better with younger children or children with special needs.
Why do I need a license?
California State law requires that a family be licensed to care full-time for an unrelated child under the age of 18. The State of California contracts with Sacramento County Children's Protective Service to complete the licensing process.
Does the license cost me anything?
No. However, there may be some expense for preparing your home to meet health and safety standards, such as adding a fence around your pool, or installing working smoke detectors.
Will the personal information I provide to my social worker, be shared with anyone?
The social worker will not share your personal information with any birth families, however, in the course of sharing your home with a child, his or her family will learn something about you and your family through the child. You will be provided essential information about the child's family that is necessary for you to know and understand how to best care for that child. A foster parent is viewed as part of a team, which includes the child, his or her birth family and the social worker. Ideally, a foster child sees his or her foster family and birth family as appreciating and respecting one another and working together.
Is there an age limit to who can become a foster parent?
Age requirements are flexible as long as your health and energy level can keep up with the needs of the children and activities in which they are involved.
Can I be a foster parent if I am single or if I rent a home?
Foster parents may be single or married and may rent or own their own home.
What if I want to adopt a child?
Most of the time, the goal when a child enters foster care, is to reunite the child with the birth parents, or extended family. It is important to understand it is best for the child to return home or be placed with family members. This means a foster parent's role is to help prepare children for reuniting with their family. The goal of Concurrent Planning is to work toward this goal as a first priority, while identifying an alternative placement plan for the child should reunification with the birth parents, or placement with relatives, not be possible. The preferred concurrent plans are adoption or guardianship. The child's foster family may be considered as an adoptive family, if the foster family is interested in adopting the child. Families wishing to adopt must have as approved home study.