If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email us for more information.
Children in foster care have the same needs essential to every child: security, safety, and love. Just as each child is unique and may require differing parenting styles for success, fostering is no different. Fostering a child requires a balance of open-mindedness, dependability, and patience.
Children in care have sometimes been neglected, physically, sexually, mentally and/or emotionally abused. The children can be angry, resentful and sad and may take it out on their foster parents. It’s important to recognize behaviors as possible effects of that child’s history and to not take it personally. This can be harder than it seems in highly intense emotional situations. Lastly, a foster child may require at times extra attention, affection, and empathy.
There are specific responsibilities and duties that the foster parent is held accountable for. The foster parent must keep records and maintain the child and family’s confidentiality. The foster family will also be asked to go through an intensive and time-consuming “interview” process which includes background checks, home inspection, SAFE study and training classes.
Foster parents are asked to love and care for a child as if he /she were your own, but also be willing to support the child’s reunification with mom, dad or the child’s family. Another expectation is that the foster parent be willing to work with a “team” of professionals involved in the child’s case which include monthly visits with social workers. This goal requires excellent communication skills on your part, and a commitment to follow the plan set forth by the fostering agency even when you may be in disagreement with it.
Foster parents believe that the child will be grateful and relieved to be out of their home situation. This is rarely the case. Abuse is all that the child may know. The child’s bad situation is her/his “normal.” Be prepared for the child to be anything but happy about being in your home. In other words, examine your expectations. What are you expecting? Not only from the child but from his or her parents, the state and the fostering experience itself? High expectations can lead to your fall!
Most children come into the foster care system because they have been removed from their parent or guardian due to abuse or neglect. Many come from homes where substance abuse and/or domestic violence are present.
Children are removed from homes for a wide variety of reasons such as lack of supervision, unsanitary housing conditions, educational neglect, medical neglect, physical abuse, or constant exposure to domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
All of the children entering the foster care system have experienced trauma in one form or another. Being able and willing to help a child heal from trauma is a necessary quality in a foster parent.
A child or teen may be in foster care for one night, several months or, in some cases, several years. Every effort is made to reunify children with their parent. The time spent in foster care is dependent upon each parent’s situation and their ability to engage in services to keep the children or youth safe so that they can be reunited.
Children may leave foster care to live with a relative or another adult with whom they have a significant relationship. This is called kinship care.
Most likely, a child entering foster care is coming from a situation that may have consisted of severe neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental mental health issues, parents with addiction problems, or ongoing abandonment, to name a few. As a result, it makes sense that we see similar behaviors in children that they most likely experienced from their parents. These include:
- Withdrawn or depressed mood
- Lack of understanding regarding consequences
- Physical aggression towards others or animals
- Sexually acting out
- Lack of impulse control
- Difficulty connecting with others
- Property destruction
- Emotional sensitivity
Because these children did not have a comforting, loving, and secure environment as their “stable base,” they can appear lost, distrustful, and angry.
These children are not “bad” or “damaged” like they may appear initially. Instead, they are simply having a normal reaction to the negative past experiences of their lives. Because of this, it is important to have a clear understanding of your child’s history in order to better understand what you are seeing now.
By gaining a deep understanding of your child’s experiences, you will be more competent as a parent and better able to work with the child in a calm and therapeutic manner. The good news is that these children can and will change with the security, warmth, and structure they can receive from a positive and therapeutic parent.
Discipline teaches a child that there are limits and is very important in a healthy family. In Colorado state regulations prohibit any form of punishment (physical, mental, or verbal) to a foster child which may be considered abusive, degrading or vindictive. Chaffee County DHS strictly endorses and enforces this regulation. Physical punishment, including slapping and spanking, is prohibited.
Participating and engaging in activities including travel with your family is strongly encouraged. Although travel is permissible, Foster families are still required to meet court requirements that may include mandatory visitation with parents or family. If an out of state travel is requested, special permission must be granted by the DHS department and GAL (Child’s Guardian ad Litem) with at least 30-day notice.
We encourage contact between foster parents and parents based upon the treatment team’s recommendation. Sometimes “Icebreaker Meetings” are scheduled at the beginning of placement to allow the foster parents and parents to meet and focus on the needs of the child. Topics may include foods they like or dislike interests, routines and other important information that will reduce the trauma and help with the transition into the foster home.
Contact with the birth family can reduce anxiety and reduce loyalty issues for children in foster care. There are many levels of contact, which may include:
- Sending written information about the child or youth
- Telephone calls
- Face-to-face contact
- Inviting and transporting parents to appointments.
- Coaching on parenting techniques that work for the child
The situation is different for each child and foster family. Many birth parents do have an opportunity to meet foster parents at scheduled visits or meetings.
Foster families will receive all necessary information prior to these visits and are expected to transport children to and from a visitation site or meeting place.
Foster parents receive a monthly reimbursement to offset the costs of providing food, shelter, clothing and other related expenses. The rate varies and may depend upon the age of the child and their level of care they need. The foster parent is not expected to pay for medical or dental care. These expenses are generally covered by Medicaid.
On any given day in Colorado, there are between 3,000 and 5,000 children in out of home placement. There is a never-ending need for caring foster parents who can provide safe, nurturing homes for children.
Yes. Through the extensive questionnaires and paperwork you complete and through personal interviews with our staff, you are encouraged to evaluate the type of child that you are best equipped for and provide a home for.
Throughout this process, you may select an age range, ethnicity, gender, and types of behaviors you will feel best prepared to parent. In addition, you will have opportunities for ongoing training that may expand your confidence in dealing with challenging behaviors of some children.
After you are certified, when one of our staff calls to discuss a possible child placement with you, we encourage you to ask any questions. We will provide you with all of the information we have about the child and work with you in creating the best possible fit for a child in your home
This varies by circumstances and individual cases. An “average” stay of a child through a foster care program could be six months to eighteen months. A child’s stay in your home could range from two days to a lifetime, depending on the child’s needs and your family’s plans and capacities.
Again, throughout the training, screening and assessment process that takes place between you and our staff, we ask you to give serious thought to your motivation in providing foster care.
In some cases, yes. A permanent, loving home is the goal for each and every child. If a child becomes eligible for adoption and there are no known relatives available, the foster parents can be considered first. Reunification is the primary goal for every child.
After you receive your foster home certification you may be anxious for a child to be placed quickly. You have already committed much time and energy toward this end.
First, it is very important to understand that the placement process is not on a “first come, first serve basis.” Matches between a foster child’s needs and a foster family’s strengths are carefully made.
The hope and expectation is that this will prevent having to move the child to a different foster home. Flexibility around gender, age range, ethnicity, and behaviors is also a factor. In addition, placements can occur more quickly if your family can parent a sibling group of two or more children.
No. A foster child must have at least 40 square feet of bedroom space, so a bedroom that measures 8ft. by 10ft., not counting closet space, can accommodate two children. However, each foster child must have his or her own separate bed or crib, with sheets and coverings. Children cannot share beds. Also, bedroom space must be planned so that children over four years of age are not sharing bedrooms with children of the opposite gender over four years of age. Children ages 5 years and younger need to be on the same floor as foster parents or have a monitoring device.
Yes. It is most common for foster families to enroll their children in their neighborhood school.
There may be occasional exceptions if it is very close to the end of a semester and the caseworker, case manager, and the foster parents can arrange to allow the child to finish the semester in his/her current school.
Another exception may be made if a child were receiving special education services that require the school to transport the child to and from another school where those special services would be provided.
Foster children are covered by Medicaid insurance. This covers their basic medical costs to include dental and vision. It does not cover such items as orthodontics (braces). You will receive information from the assigned case manager at the time a child is placed with you on how to access Medicaid coverage for this child.
Yes. All of our licensed families are able to provide “respite care” for foster children in their homes, availability depends on family schedules. We also allow an approved adult to provide respite in your home. This allows foster parents to take an evening or a weekend off, knowing that their foster child is in good hands.
Yes. The rate of reimbursement varies, depending on the child’s individual needs. Typically, the reimbursement rate is determined prior to the child being placed in the foster home. The referring county caseworker and the LFSRM staff review the child’s special needs and the payment amount is determined.