9 Foster Care and Adoption Services Every Family Needs
Adopting from foster care or becoming a foster parent can be a complex, lengthy process. When they’re first starting out, many families are unsure of what services they need to complete an adoption in their state and where they can find them. That’s where this guide comes in. Find out everything you need to know when it comes to foster care and adoption services here.
Adoption and Fostering Services Offered by a Foster Care AgencyMost of the services you need to become a foster parent or adopt from foster care will be provided by your foster care agency or state social services department. Your agency will be the primary professional guiding you through every step of the process, answering your questions and providing referrals to other professionals when needed. Here are a few of the most important foster care adoption services they will provide:
Parenting ClassesBecause it’s such an important step, this foster and adoptive resource family service can be found at most foster care agencies. Like the home study, every hopeful parent will need to take parenting classes before they can be considered eligible to adopt or foster. These classes are also known as “pre-service training.” They usually happen during the initial stages of your adoption. The two classes that you might take are called PS-MAPP (Partnering for Safety and Permanency – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) or PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) During your training sessions, you will prepare yourself for fostering or adopting a child, find answers to any leftover questions about the fostering and adoption services, learn more about the process itself, and connect with other hopeful foster parents.
MatchingAfter you finish all of your foster parent training and paperwork, it’s time to start the process for being matched to a child or sibling group. During this step, your caseworker will be searching for a waiting child who might be a good match for your family. Once they’ve found a child who they think might be a good fit, they’ll submit an inquiry to that child’s caseworker and coordinate with them to provide more info to the adoptive family. After some back and forth, everyone will determine if it could be a good match! For many families, this is the hardest part of the process because the wait can be so unpredictable. If you have any questions about this foster and adoption service, especially when it comes to wait times, don’t hesitate to reach out to your caseworker. They’ll be the ones to ensure you’ve found the right match for your family and for the child.
A Foster Parent ProfileDepending on your agency’s policies and your social worker’s process for finding adoption opportunities, you may be asked to create a family profile or write a cover letter to help with the matching process. Like an adoptive family profile, a foster parent profile will tell foster and adoption social workers about you, your family, and your goals for a foster care adoption. Once you’ve completed your home study and you’re ready to begin searching for waiting children, you can add your profile to your resources like AdoptUSKids to be considered for adoption opportunities. If you are having trouble creating your foster parent profile, feel free to reach out to your caseworker for help.
Financial SupportYou have probably heard that other types of adoption can be expensive. However, foster care costs little to nothing for hopeful parents, as many expenses can be reimbursed by the state. Additionally, foster and adoptive parents are eligible to receive a monthly adoption subsidy to help supplement the cost of a child’s needs. While this money isn’t the same thing as “getting paid,” it’s still a great help for many families and can give them the freedom to focus on other important matters. They are also eligible to receive additional reimbursement for adoption-related expenses. When you talk to your agency, make sure that they go over this part of the process with you. Any adoption professional should do its best to ensure that your financial needs are being met.
Services Offered by Other ProfessionalsWhile the caseworker at your foster care agency will be your primary point of contact and will provide most of the services you need as a foster or adoptive parent, there are a few additional services you may need to coordinate with other professionals. Here are a few of them:
Legal SupportA legal professional’s guidance is one of the most important foster care adoptive family services. Every adoptive family needs the expertise of an adoption attorney to finalize their adoption. However, there are other points in the adoption where a foster or adoptive family might want this legal professional by their side. An adoption attorney will make sure that the rights of foster parents are protected throughout the process, but they can also be a great help to foster children and their biological parents.
A Home StudyBefore a family can be considered eligible to foster or adopt, they must complete a home study in their state. This will likely be one of the first adoption and fostering services that you come across. Basically, this process ensures that your family meets all of the requirements to become a foster or adoptive family and that you can provide a safe, loving home. Typically, this process is comprised of two parts: documentation and an in-home visit. It’s also one of the longest parts of your adoption or fostering journey, so it’s a good idea to get a head start. If you’re working with a private adoption agency, then they may have a professional on staff who can help you complete this step. If you’re working with a public adoption agency, then you may need to find a social worker who can complete home studies on you own. Always check with your foster care agency first to determine whether you will need to locate your own home study provider and what you should look for in this professional. For home study professionals in your state, please check out 1-800-homestudy.com.
Other Foster Parent Services and ProgramsIn addition to the services above, there are other programs that might make your life as a foster parent and your child’s life a little easier. Below are a few foster care and adoption services that you might consider looking into:
- Respite Care: Every parent needs help sometimes. Respite care givers can provide foster parents, birth parents, and caregivers with temporary relief. If you’re a foster parent and you’re struggling with parenting demands, please remember that you do have options. Ask your foster care agency about any respite care services that may be available to you.
- Mentorship programs: If you’re fostering a child before adopting them, you might be interested in the mentorship programs available. These mentors can make a huge difference in the life of children in foster care. If you’re interested, there are several programs available that can help you get started.
- Scholarships: Many foster parents wonder, “Will my foster child be eligible for financial assistance?” The answer to that question is yes. There are many scholarships and grants available just for adoptees, in addition to those awarded for their athletic or academic achievements. Take a look into those before your student heads off to college.