Foster Care: Fostering Hope. Change a Lifetime!
May is National Foster Care Month, when we pay special attention to the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care. There is an overwhelming need for individuals, families, and communities to become involved as foster parents, respite providers, volunteers, or mentors of children who need an adult role model.
According to the most recent federal data, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. They range in age from infants to 21 years old (in some states). The average age of a child in foster care is more than 8 years old, and there are slightly more boys than girls.
Children and youth enter foster care because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or guardians. All of these children have experienced loss and some form of trauma. In other ways, foster children are no different from children who are not in foster care: they are learning and growing, like to play and hang out with friends their age, and need the love and stability a permanent home provides.
The median amount of time that a child spends in foster care is just over a year. More than half of the children in foster care will be reunified with their parents or primary caregivers, and nearly one-quarter will be adopted, many by their foster parents.
Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system when they turn 18 or 21, or when they finish high school (depending upon the state in which they live.) These children are at increased risk of poor educational outcomes, experiencing homelessness, and being unemployed.
In Nevada, the requirements for being a foster parent: You can be single or married, over the age of 21, and have a clear criminal record (this can be discussed with your licensing worker). The rest is an assortment of application documents that must be completed and acquired, such as your DMV driving record, a physical and TB test. Foster families must be willing to have their homes safety inspected and are required to complete 27 hours of pre-certification training and maintain 4 hours of training annually.
Foster parents must have sufficient regular income to sustain their family without relying on the foster family reimbursement. (Unfortunately, AFDC, temporary disability, student loans and unemployment compensation do not qualify as income.)
Can single people apply to be foster parents? Yes! Single parents can give high quality care to a child. Single parents need to identify a back-up provider who can care for your foster children in your absence or illness, as foster children require 24-hour adult supervision.
What are the requirements for transporting children?
Foster parents are responsible for transporting foster children to school, doctor appointments, after-school activities, etc., just as they are for their own children all vehicles must be in good running order and there must be enough seats, seatbelts, car seats and infant car seats available for the family. In addition, it is required that parents have a valid Nevada Driver’s license, current auto insurance and the ability to drive.
Will I meet the child before he/she is placed in my home?
The referring social worker is usually working with tight time constraints and therefore “pre-placement visits” are generally not feasible. We will give you all the information about the child initially and as it is received. You will need to be prepared to make a decision about fostering a particular child based solely on information we give you over the phone.
Will I get to choose the age and/or sex of the child placed in my home?
As part of the application and home study you will identify the age and sex of child or children that would be most appropriate for your home.
Once I am certified, how long will it take to get a foster child placed in my home?
The timing of placements depends on the situation of the foster children in the foster system. We match children to available homes based on the child’s needs, your criteria (age, sex, siblings, etc.) and the criteria of the placing social worker. Placements may be made within a couple days of being licensed or can take several months.
For information about becoming a Foster Parent in Carson City and the Rural Counties call Lori Nichols, LSW , Foster Care Recruitment (775) 684-1967 or (888) 423-2659 (Toll Free inside Nevada) or email: email@example.com For more information, please visit A Child’s Journey Home at www.achildsjourneyhome.com
I want to help but I do not think I can be a foster parent. No problem! There are numerous ways to get involved and make a difference in a child’s life! You can sponsor a child, you can grant a wish through One Simple Wish: https://www.onesimplewish.org/ , https://www.casey.org/ways-help/ or for more ideas, please visit http://www.fostercoalition.com/help-foster-children
In Humboldt, Lander and Pershing Counties, you can volunteer with our Family Advocacy Program, which is a collaborative program between Humboldt AVA and DCFS to provide a volunteer advocate for children in the Child Welfare System in our counties. For more information and to apply, please visit: www.humboldtava.com
*Much thanks to Lori Nichols at A Child’s Journey Home, https://www.childwelfare.govhttps://www.childwelfare.gov and http://www.fostercoalition.comhttp://www.fostercoalition.com for providing this information.
**Special thanks to the wonderful foster and kinship families we are very lucky to have in our community who welcome a child into their home and hearts! To all those who are not afraid to grieve because the risk is higher not knowing what will happen to the children if no one is there to love them.