You have made the decision and you are ready to become a foster parent. How exciting! Or perhaps, how overwhelming!
There are many steps required to get a foster care license and you will want to have an experienced foster agency walking you through the process. An agency that is willing to explain the details, hold your hand, and guide with patience. Foster parent reviews are plentiful on social media, be sure to take advantage and read what people have to say. It is very important that you feel welcomed and appreciated during your very first inquiry. A key point to remember is: The first interaction you have with an agency will be very telling of how your overall experience will be when you are caring for foster children in your home. Here is what we mean by that:
When making your first call, you should expect to speak with someone immediately or get a return call promptly, within hours. Your inquiry should be met with gratitude and full transparency along with detailed answers to ALL of your questions. There are many major topics that should be talked about at length. If you are simply sent an application or told to attend a group orientation meeting, you may want to reconsider moving forward with that agency. If a foster agency doesn't have time for you when you call to learn more, chances are they won't have time for you when children are placed in your home and you need their support at 10 pm. The first interaction will be very telling of how you will be treated after getting a foster care license.
The first person you will speak with at CCR is a former foster mom.
Who better to explain the details than someone who has lived it. That is what we thought when we hired her! Speaking with someone with first-hand knowledge of foster parenting is a valuable first step. Speaking with someone who has cared for kids with trauma is invaluable. Our recruitment adviser isn't paid to talk you into fostering nor to convince you to join our family instead of another agency. Her job is to give you the facts about treatment foster care and what you can expect on your journey as a foster parent to kids with a variety of trauma.
We want you to be comfortable and feel welcomed during your first contact.
We understand that you might not know what to ask about fostering. No worries. A wide array of topics will be discussed to give you a detailed picture of fostering with us. Here are just a few of the areas we will discuss with you:
- Treatment foster care; what it is, how is serves kids and families.
- The children; ages, siblings, needs, placements...
- Staff; who we are, our experience, dedication, locations...
- Stipends; how you are reimbursed, medical coverage, appointments...
- Steps to get a license; training; home visits, paperwork, timing...
Getting to know you is important.
During the first call, you will be asked some questions that allow our adviser to get a snapshot of you and what you might be interested in. The conversation is very casual and meant to provide all the information you need to move forward. In order to do that, we must ask you some basic questions to determine if you pre-qualify to be a treatment foster parent. The answers you provide to these questions give our adviser information to begin a good conversation with you about what fostering kids at the treatment level looks like. Your answers will begin to tell her if you meet the basic qualifications to be a foster parent to kids with significant trauma.
What is the age range you wish to foster?
Nearly 85% of the children referred to us by counties across Wisconsin are over the age of 5. Younger children are often part of a sibling group. If you are interested in siblings, school-age children or teens then the conversation continues. If your wish is to foster a baby, you may want to consider another agency.
We like our foster parents to have a preferred age range. For example, under 12 years old or teen girls or siblings of any age. This way we know in advance what type of placement to consider for your family.
A flexible schedule in non-negotiable when fostering treatment level children.
Do you have a flexible schedule?
Because of the wide range of needs of the children you will be caring for, it is imperative that you have a flexible schedule. Having availability before & after school as well as on school breaks and summer vacation will be a priority. It is important to remember that most foster children have come from unstable environments, usually lacking adequate parental supervision. It is important that foster parents provide consistent routines, a structured environment, and supervision. You or a spouse will be required to be available to your kids at all times.
Do you have children or other adults living in your home?
If you have children of your own living at home, rest assured we will have their best interests in mind when considering placements for your family. Therefore, there are many things to consider if you have your own children.
- What are the ages and gender of your children?
- Are there any characteristics that we should know about? Like ADHD, autism, speech delay, social delays, etc.
- How many bedrooms do you have available for foster kids?
- How many beds will be available?
- Will kids be sharing a room?
These are important factors because we want to keep all kids in your home safe, r have other adults living with you, we will want to know that. Your children are your first priority and we want to make sure
Caring for foster children will demand much from you, it cannot be done alone.
Who will be your support system?
The best of parents cannot be in two places at the same time. There will be times when you will need to rely on others for help. Fostering children with significant trauma can come with a host of appointments and responsibilities. Being available to your kids 24/7 is not always possible and friends and family will be of great help during unforeseen circumstances.
It will be important to have a shortlist of people that will be supportive during your fostering journey. The day will come when you cannot get to school immediately for an urgent situation. You may have an appointment for yourself and need someone to be home to greet the kids after school. Times will arise and you must have people available to help. Having conversations with friends and family prior to becoming a foster parent is suggested. Make sure they know what you may be asking of them and be confident that you will be able to call on them with short notice.
Experience with trauma or exposure to what childhood trauma looks like is not a requirement, but it is helpful.
What do you know about childhood trauma?
Experience is certainly not necessary to become a foster parent but it is important that we ask you if you have experience with childhood trauma.
- Do you know anyone who fosters?
- Do you have professional or personal experience with kids living with trauma?
- Do you know what trauma looks like?
Your answers to these questions provide us insight as to what should be discussed on the first phone call regarding trauma. If you grew up in foster care our conversation will be very different than topics we cover with someone who has no experience at all with trauma. One is not better or preferred over the other. It just determines how trauma is explained and how we introduce you to kids with trauma.
Trauma is ugly and can be devastating. Providing foster parents with proper education and the tools required to help children heal from trauma is one thing we do exceptionally well at CCR. Our foster parents must have the proper tools in their toolbox to be successful in providing a healing environment. We will provide foster care training throughout your fostering journey to enable you to care for kids properly and appropriately. A clinical caseworker will support you and the children in your care on a weekly basis to ensure that the child's needs are being met. We promise to be with you step by step.
The initial phone call had with our recruitment adviser should put you at ease and provide answers to all of your questions. Call with confidence knowing that you will get answers and be met with a welcoming smile over the phone line. We look forward to speaking with you.
800-799-0450 ask for Jane