Frequently Asked Questions
Why are foster parents needed?
Foster parents are needed to provide temporary homes and care for children who are unable to live in their homes due to family circumstances. These children may be victims of abuse or neglect. Some need care because their parents struggle with issues such as substance abuse or anger management. Others have physical, emotional, or behavioral concerns of their own.
Are foster homes for children certified and subject to Ohio law?
Foster homes are certified by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) in cooperation with public county children’s services agencies, juvenile courts, and other child placing agencies, and must comply with the certification rules of ODJFS and with Ohio law. Certification is based on an evaluation of a family’s home to assure the home has adequate space and meets specified requirements.
What information will be used to determine if I would be a suitable foster parent?
A home study will be completed before a child is placed with you. In the course of the home study, the agency will work with you to assess your ability to meet the expectations involved with being a foster parent. Since children who enter foster care have been separated from their families and often feel insecure, they need foster families that can provide stability and individual attention.
Do I have to be married to be a foster parent?
No! People who are single, married, or persons with partners can be foster parents. In fact, at any given time, about half of our foster homes have single parents.
Are there age requirements for foster parents?
People interested in becoming foster parents must be at least 21 years old at the time of their initial application. They must demonstrate that they are mature and financially stable and able to meet their family’s current financial needs. They must agree to complete criminal background checks (all members of family over 18), medical statement (all family members), local and county checks, provide five personal and/or professional references, have available space and beds, and the completion of a personal, home, and safety assessment.
Will I receive financial support for taking care of a child?
Foster parents receive a daily board reimbursement also called a per diem for each foster child placed in their home to reimburse them for the cost of food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. The monies received are not considered income; the reimbursement is non-taxable and cannot be reported as income. These monies are provided to cover the expenses of providing care to the youth placed in your home. You will not be responsible for any medical expenses. The legal custodian of the child provides for their medical expenses.
Can someone else care for a foster child while I work?
Yes. If one or both parents work outside of the home a foster parent can utilize outside childcare. The person providing childcare for a foster child must be pre-approved by the agency. The agency may require care providers to submit to a background check. Foster parents are responsible for paying for outside childcare by using the provided per diem rate paid by CHOICES, Inc.
What information will I be given about a child before they are placed in my home?
The agency will give you all the information that has been provided to us at the time of the referral. CHOICES, Inc. is committed to gathering as much information about the child’s background, development, and behavior as possible to help you understand the child’s needs. Information gathering is an ongoing process that will continue after the time of placement. Foster parents will be given the opportunity to make the final decision regarding acceptance of a potential placement during the referral process.
How long can I expect a child to be with me?
The child could be in your home for a day, a week, a month, or longer. Although foster care is intended to be a temporary living arrangement, it is difficult to estimate exactly how long foster care services will be needed. Currently, our average length of stay is approximately one year.
What if my circumstances change and I can no longer care for a foster child?
Foster parents are required to notify the agency promptly so another home can be found for the child. The child benefits if there is time to prepare for a move, but arrangements should be made as soon as possible.
What is expected of me as a foster parent?
You are expected to provide foster children with the guidance, structure, and safety you would give your own children and to work as a team member with the agency to address the children’s special needs until the children can return to their own families, move to permanent adoptive homes, or live independently. Providing specialized care will include all necessary transportation to family visits, medical, dental, and counseling appointments, daily parenting functions, completing required paperwork and monitoring medications.
What are the responsibilities of the agency while a child is in my home?
CHOICES, Inc. is responsible for the proper care and safety of all children placed in our network. Your home will be assigned a social worker that will provide support, education and assistance. The worker will conduct several home visits each month meeting with the family, the child, and other members of the treatment team. The CHOICES, Inc. worker is available 24 hours a day to assist foster parents on an emergency basis. Our workers are required to continually assess and monitor the quality of care and safety being provided by our foster homes.
Can the child’s parents visit while the child is in my home?
The guidelines for visits between the youth and their birth family are determined by the court and custodial agency. Foster parents are expected to support any visitation plan in place. Visitation can be a very important component of a youth’s permanency plan. If the plan is reunification, visits allow the family members time to be together, maintaining familial relationships, and allow time for biological parents to demonstrate parenting skills. If a youth is in long-term care, these visits are still important as they allow connections to remain with siblings and other family members who may be able to provide positive support to the youth.