Frequently Asked Questions about Foster Care
1. Why is ChildNet recruiting foster parents?
In America today, there are more than half a million children in foster care. Sixteen thousand (16,000) of these children reside in Los Angeles County. ChildNet, along with the County and other private agencies, is continually recruiting homes to meet the ever increasing need. Simply stated, there are not enough qualified homes to provide care for all the children.
2. Why are children in foster care?
Children are referred to foster care by County social service agencies that intervene when children have been abandoned, neglected, or abused, and when there are no family members or other interested persons capable of adequately caring for them.
3. How old are foster children?
Foster children can be any age, from birth to 18 years old. Foster care is also available for non-minor dependents that are over the age of 18 and meet certain eligibility criteria.
4. How long will foster children stay in my home?
The length of stay is different for each child. It could be weeks, months, or even years, depending on the individual child’s family circumstances and the availability of a permanent caregiver.
5. Do foster children have contact with their parents?
Foster children will have scheduled visits with their parents and other family members according to court orders, if this is in the child’s best interest. The amount of time and frequency of the visits will be different for each child.
6. Will a foster child’s parents know where I live and come to my house?
Family visits are generally arranged by agency social workers, and will take place at a neutral location such as the agency office or a park. Although the child’s parents have a legal right to know where their children live, they are not permitted to come to your home.
7. Can I adopt a foster child?
ChildNet is also licensed to provide adoption services. If a child cannot return home and there are no other suitable family members available to care for the child, the child could be freed for adoption by the court. Even if a foster parent doesn’t want to adopt a child, all certified foster parents are required to be approved for adoption prior to certification. So, if the opportunity arises for a foster parent to adopt a child in their care, they can be considered as a possible adoptive parent.
8. Who pays for medical care for foster children?
Medical care, dental care, mental health services and prescription medications are covered by state-funded Medi-Cal. There is no expense to foster parents. Costs for necessary services not covered by Medi-Cal (or if rendered before Medi-Cal is in effect) will be reimbursed by the agency with appropriate proof of service. Elective procedures are not covered by Medi-Cal, including orthodontic care.
9. Can a foster child travel with us on our family vacation?
Yes, with written approval from the County placing agency. Some out-of-state or out-of-country trips may not be approved, so arrangements for the care of the child in your absence must be made far in advance with the approval of the agency and County social worker.
10. What are the basic requirements to become a foster parent?
- Child is looking for potential foster parents who are loving and patient, with a sincere desire to make a difference in the life of a child. In addition, specific State and County requirements must be satisfied before your home can be certified.
- All requirements are intended to ensure the health and safety of foster children.
- Foster parents must be in good health and have sufficient verifiable income to meet the needs of all family members.
- Each child in the home must have their own bed, and no more than two children can share a room.
- Foster parents must have a driver’s license, and vehicles driven by foster parents must have enough seat belts (and child safety seats if necessary) to accommodate every member of the family. Also, foster children cannot ride in the front seat of a vehicle if under the age of twelve, or in the front seat of any care with a passenger side air bag.
11. Will I receive training to be a foster parent?
ChildNet offers the required training in First-Aid, CPR, and parenting skills geared toward the special needs of foster children. First Aid and CPR can also be taken by outside approved providers.
12. Can single people be foster parents?
Foster parents can be single or married, in a domestic partnership, have their own children, or not ever have been parents.
13. Am I too old/young to be a foster parent?
Many of our foster parents have raised a family and retired from careers. Age is not usually a factor in deciding whether or not to certify a foster parent. We only ask that you be able to physically and mentally up with an active, challenging child. All certified foster parents must be at least 21 years old and care for foster children at least 10 younger than they are (with rare exceptions).
14. How much will it cost me to become a foster parent?
There will be initial costs for items such as a first aid kit, home safety improvements, appropriate beds/bedding and storage furniture, as well as minor administrative costs (physical exam, TB test, DMV record, etc.). You must be financially prepared to pay in advance for all foster child expenses (food, clothing, toiletries, child care, transportation, etc.), as you will not receive support funds (reimbursement) for these expenses until up to 6 weeks after the child is placed in your home.
15. Do I have to own a home to be a foster parent?
No. As long as your living quarters meet licensing requirements, you may live in a rented home or apartment.
16. Will I be paid to be a foster parent?
A support payment is mailed monthly, the amount of which depends on the age of the child. As mentioned above, these funds are considered reimbursement for any child-related expenses. Foster parents are not paid for their services, and are considered volunteers for the agency, not employees.
17. What are the advantages of being a certified ChildNet foster parent?
ChildNet takes a team approach to caring for foster children, and we treat foster parents as important members of our foster care treatment team. A master’s degree level social worker, with a caseload of fifteen children or less, is assigned to each foster home. Your social worker or another staff member is available 24/7 via cell phone to provide emergency assistance. Social workers also provide ongoing training and support tailored to the individual needs of each child and foster family. Finally, foster care is just one department within ChildNet. Through our foster care, mental health and non-public school programs, we have more than 40 years of experience providing quality homes, counseling and educational services to children and families in need.
18. Are there different types of foster care?
Yes. Foster parents can be individual licensed by the State of California and receive placements and financial/social worker support directly from County placing agencies. Foster parents can also be certified with a treatment foster family agency (FFA) like ChildNet’s Foster Family Network (FFN) and provide more specialized care. ChildNet also has treatment foster care, Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC). All of our foster care programs utilize a team approach to meeting a child’s unique needs.
- Treatment foster care (often referred to as “regular” foster care) is for children with a need for higher level of care than basic foster care provided by a licensed foster parent. The agency social worker assists the foster parent with all aspects of the child’s care and, in collaboration with the County placing agency social worker, makes referrals to various support services, inside and outside ChildNet to form a team to meet the child’s needs.
- Intensive treatment Foster Care is for children in need of more intensive treatment services. These services are provided by a team of professionals employed by ChildNet’s foster care and mental health programs, in collaboration with the County placing agency social worker. Each member of the team has a specific role in assisting the child with their various needs. Each child’s ITFC service plan can be customized to meet their needs.
19. Do I have to be a regular foster parent first, before I can become a TFC foster parent?
Not necessarily. Depending on your past experience, training, skills and desire for a challenge, it is conceivable that you could become a specialized foster parent right from the start of initial certification. However, most foster parents start by doing regular treatment foster care.
20. If I am currently a licensed foster parent or certified with another foster family agency, can I switch and become associated with ChildNet?
Yes, as long as there are no outstanding issues from your previous foster care oversight agency and as long as you meet all agency, State and County requirements.
21. Will parenting classes taken at other agencies transfer to ChildNet?
ChildNet accepts MAPP (Model Approaches to Partnerships in Parenting) or PRIDE (Parents’ Resources for Information Development Education) training certificates, as long as the training was completed with the past year. Additional training about ChildNet policies and procedures is also required prior to certification.
22. What would keep me from becoming a foster parent?
- Criminal background of any kind for any resident of the househol
- Inability to meet all requirements for an adoption-level home study
- Lack of a driver’s license; unsafe car
- Inadequate bedroom space, according to State licensing requirements
- Security bars on bedroom windows that cannot be released in the event of fire
- Unsanitary or cluttered home/yard; overall property in serious disrepair
- Unsafe, non-securable areas or items on the property such as an unfenced pool or spa, hazardous objects or substances in the home, garage or yard, t\etc.
- Non-approved pets (poisonous snakes/reptiles, aggressive cats/dogs of any breed; pit bull dogs not allowed)
- Insufficient income to support all family members
- Inability to afford child care; no access to an approved back-up babysitter