Why Foster Care?
Almost half a million children were in foster care in September 2016, according to information from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Of those, nearly half were in non-relative homes. The need for foster homes continues to grow, with some areas experiencing an increase in children coming into care.
Those who view foster care from the outside may wonder why it’s so important. Perhaps some have even thought about becoming foster parents but haven’t taken the next step. It may be helpful to understand why there’s such a need for this service.
Safety and Stability
The primary purpose of foster care is to provide a safe and stable environment for a child who cannot be with his or her parents for some reason. An environment that feels like home instead of a group home or other residential center is usually best for a child.
Children who have been uprooted from their homes need a place where they can feel safe. Many times, they have suffered abuse and/or neglect from their parents, so they have no idea what a loving home feels like. Foster parents help them learn what it’s like to eat, sleep, and play in a place that is safe.
Often, the place they previously called home was chaotic with no routines or a sense of normalcy. These children must learn what it’s like to get up and go to school, eat regular meals, and have schedules. Knowing what is going to happen every day gives the child a sense of stability that is often lacking.
Much of the time, biological parents love their children, but problems they are dealing with prevent them from knowing how to be a parent. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or other issues, they cannot provide what a child needs. As a result, the child doesn’t know what a “normal” life looks like.
Foster homes teach children what it means to be a kid. They learn to laugh and love and to act their age. It often takes time and patience for children to relax enough to be themselves or even to figure out who they are. Foster parents have the big task of helping children learn about themselves and the world around them in a positive way after experiencing so much negativity in their lives.
Stopping the Cycle
Foster parents have the important role of teaching children what a family looks like. Through foster care, they get the individual attention and guidance they need to help them grow and develop according to their age. They see what being a parent is supposed to mean so that when they grow up, they don’t have to continue to the cycle.
Often, foster care provides a safe transition period for the child while the biological family gets their issues resolved so they can be the parents they want to be. The foster parents not only support the child, but they support the parents, too. They help the parents fulfill their roles and feel less alone in their struggles. The biological parents can know their child is safe and being cared for while they focus on getting their lives on track.
Foster care plays an important role in caring for kids in an already-burdened system. It is an essential component of bringing families together and helping kids to grow up and excel in life regardless of their past.
Foster Care with Children's Home of York
Our Permanency Program provides a variety of services for children and their biological, foster and/or adoptive families from birth through the age of 21. Our structured, therapeutic family environment offers intensive support with the goal of helping children in our care secure a permanent family as quickly as possible. We work with a pool of resource parents to provide kinship care and a variety of Permanency support services throughout Pennsylvania. We maintain an ongoing process of recruitment, screening, and training — which enables us to offer diverse geographical and racial/ethnic environments essential to the successful placement of children and sibling groups of all ages who have a variety of emotional and psychological needs.
We serve children who are able to function in a family setting with support and structure. (This includes children with family conflicts, truancy, defiant and runaway behaviors; victims of physical and/or sexual abuse; minor delinquency, those with educable and trainable disabilities and children who have emotional disturbances.) Mother and child placements are also available.
What makes us special is our unique approach to the process from first thought to welcoming a child into your home. We understand the process can be confusing and overwhelming for anyone, so we pride ourselves in providing step-by-step guidance and support. We take a realistic approach to answering all of your questions and concerns. We believe the only way to make the right decision for you and your family is to make an informed decision.
Training and Support
Individuals and families can be approved in as little as six to eight weeks to become resource parents. Families interested in adopting a child out of Foster Care can be dually certified to provide Foster Care and to become an adoptive parent. The process moves quickly, pending the completion of all safety and background requirements. We are committed to providing assistance and support every step of the way.
Our comprehensive pre-service training prepares applicants to become successful and effective foster parents. Once approved you will participate in monthly training sessions that delve into the complexities of foster care. One of our unique approaches to this educational process is by introducing the "Think Trauma" curriculum that explores the many ways children are affected by their situations and how we can best respond to it. Ongoing support, education, and communication, bi-weekly in-home visits, help to arrange respite care, special assistance in cases of emergency, and social networking opportunities are among the many services foster parents can expect to receive from the Permanency Program.
In addition, foster parents receive TAX-FREE financial support to help meet the needs of the children placed in their home. A daily rate is provided. Transportation expenses are reimbursed, and foster children have their own medical coverage as well as funds for allowance and clothing expenses.
Kinship Care is when children who have been separated from their parent(s) are temporarily placed in the home of a caregiver who has an existing relationship with the child or the child’s natural family. Kinship Care providers can be families such as adult brothers or sisters, cousins, an uncle or aunt, grandparent or others who have a close tie to the child in need of care. Kinship Care supports the concept of children residing with a relative rather than placing a child in a foster home or another type of out-of-home placement. For children who come into the care of the child welfare system.
Kinship Care creates another placement option for a child who may not be able to continue living at home with his or her parents. Like those who take foster children into their home, Kinship Caregivers must meet certain eligibility requirements and participate in initial and ongoing training. They also receive support and benefit from financial assistance to provide care for the child placed in their home.
Kinship Care is the historic and natural way to support children within their family and community and offers many benefits, including the continuity of family traditions and preserving significant attachments, identities, and cultures.
Sometimes a child will come into foster care on what is expected to be a short-term fostering placement, but events make it impossible for the child to return home. Sometimes a family decides to long-term foster a child instead of adopting him because they anticipate that they will need a high level of support for many years and want to be sure of access to it. Sometimes an older child will come into foster care and be adamant about not wanting to be adopted.
Any of these reasons can lead to long-term or permanent fostering. That is, the child remains in care until reaching legal adulthood. Ideally, a child will stay in the same home for the whole time, but unfortunately, many children get moved from one placement to another every few years or even months.
A stable long-term foster placement can seem very much like adoption to the child and foster parents, but there is no real security because “permanent” fostering is generally not considered the best option by social services. Many long-term foster parents maintain their relationship with the children they have cared for after they grow up.
Our Permanency Program serves children who are able to function in a family setting with support and structure. (This includes children with family conflicts, truancy and defiant and runaway behaviors; victims of physical and/or sexual abuse; minor delinquency, those with educable and trainable mental retardation and children who have emotional disturbances.) A limited number of mother and child placements are also available.
Referral inquiries are made directly to the Permanency Program. During the intake process, referral material — including social history, family service plan, and amendments, school records, health/immunization records, psychological and/or psychiatric reports and other pertinent information — is gathered. If a child is already in a residential setting, a time is scheduled with the referring agency in order to complete an intake interview for the child.