Questions & Answers About Foster Care
- What can I expect from being a foster parent?
- What do I have to do to become a foster parent?
- Are there different levels of foster care commitment?
- Am I too old to be a foster parent?
- Am I too young?
- Am I too busy to be a foster parent?
- I'm single. Can I still be a foster parent?
- Does my income have to be at a certain level?
- How much would I be compensated for being a foster parent?
- What if I live outside of the Children's Home's service area for foster care?
What can I expect from being a foster parent?
Joy. Heartbreak. Laughter. Frustration. Just about any emotion you can think of. These kids have often times been through a lot of trauma during their young lives, and will need a lot of special attention from you. But their beauty, their strength, their wisdom and their individuality will likely change your perspective on everything. And over time you will realize they have also given something special to you and enriched your life.
Foster kids can be any age and any race. You may be asked to help the child prepare for reunification with the birth family, or if this is not possible you may help with other alternatives determined to be best for the child.
Foster care is meant to be temporary and is not intended to be a first step toward adoption. But sometimes children will stay with the same foster families until they are old enough to be on their own, and sometimes the foster family will choose to adopt.
Most importantly, you won’t be alone. You will receive extensive training, and you will always have the support of our case workers, social workers from county agencies, and other foster parents to help you on your journey.
What do I have to do to become a foster parent?
The first step is to call us. If you live in one of the counties we serve, you can sign up for a free 10-week course that will introduce you to foster parenting and help you decide if it is really right for you. Once you complete the course, other training, applications and evaluations are required to become certified.
You do not have to make a commitment to enroll in the course. In fact, our foster care staff recommends that you wait until you’ve attended the course before really committing
– we are here to help you decide.
Are there different levels of foster care commitment?
Yes. Many choose to dedicate themselves to providing Respite Care for full-time foster families. Children are usually in-house for a weekend at a time.
Therapeutic Foster Care is intended for children whose emotional needs are beyond what families with less training can offer. These children have a state social worker assigned to them, but also a Children’s Home case worker is available 24 hours a day for help. The child lives with the foster family full-time.
Regular Foster Care requires less training than Therapeutic Foster Care, and requires less professional support. We recruit and train regular foster parents from our office in Milton, Florida.
Enhanced Care is foster care for groups of brothers and sisters. We train these parents just as we do therapeutic families, and include information specific to the unique needs of sibling groups.
Am I too old to be a foster parent?
Many of our foster parents are grandparents who are still able to be responsive to the children’s needs (a requirement at any age). We even have an 80-something who provides Respite Care! If you are interested, sign up for the 10-week introductory course (see above). We can evaluate your limitations and strengths and make a determination from there.
Am I too young?
Are you 25 or older? Then you're not to young for Therapeutic Foster Care. And the minimum age for a Regular foster parent is 19.
Am I too busy to be a foster parent?
This is a valid concern, but some of our foster parents are doing things like pursuing college degrees and working. Even with this busy schedule, they are still able to take care of their own children plus continue to be therapeutic foster parents. If this is your calling, the time will take care of itself. And we can help you make the decision that is right for you.
I'm single. Can I still be a foster parent?
Absolutely! Again, we will help you with your decision as you experience the 10-week introductory course.
Does my income have to be at a certain level?
There is no minimum amount that foster parents have to make. However, your income should be able to provide basic needs for a foster child even without the compensation that the state pays to foster parents (board payments). If there are delays in processing board payments, we want to be sure that the child will be taken care of until the payments come through.
How much would I be compensated for being a foster parent?
State board payments to therapeutic foster parents are around $1,100 - $1,300 per month. Children who improve in therapeutic foster care may step-down to regular foster care which pays $400 - $600 per month in Alabama and $300 - $400 in Florida.
What if I live outside of the Children's Home's service area for foster care?
In Alabama, contact your county's Department of Human Resources office. In Florida, the Families First Network takes care of foster families. Or you may be able to help the children we serve in the residential group homes -- consider applying to be a relief childcare worker by contacting one of our group homes located near you (see Service Area Map).