Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for abused, neglected dependent and unruly children/youth who need a safe place to live when their parents or another relative cannot take care of them.
OFCA encourages the recruitment, retention, training and interaction for individuals who join in Ohio’s fostering families community.
National Foster Care Association – http://nfpaonline.org/
All agencies that provide foster care are licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
STEPS TO BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT IN OHIO
Educate yourself about foster care
Each and every child deserves a family to be there for them every day providing love and guidance. Earning a child’s trust may take time and energy. In addition, many children waiting in Ohio require regular medical care and/or counseling. Parenting a child with these needs can be hard work, but the rewards are tremendous for the right family.
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- At least one person in your home must be able to read, write and speak English, or be able to communicate effectively with both the child and the agency that placed the child in your home.
- You may be single or married.
- Your household must have enough income to meet the basic needs of the child and to make timely payment of shelter costs.
- You must be free of any physical, emotional or mental conditions that could endanger the child or seriously impair your ability to care for the child.
- A licensed physician, physician’s assistant, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife must complete and sign a medical statement for you and each member of your household.
- Everyone over 18 living in your house must never have been convicted of – or entered guilty pleas for – any offenses defined in Ohio Revised Code section 5103.0319. Some exclusions may be found in Ohio Administrative Code rule 5101:2-7-02 .
- A certified state fire safety inspector or the state fire marshal’s office must inspect your home and certify that it is free of hazardous conditions.
- You must complete all required pre-placement and continuing training.
Make an Inquiry
To begin the licensing process families or individuals interested in becoming foster parents should contact their local children services agency and inform the agency of their interest. Call (866) 886-3537 and select option 4, or visit your local PCSA or private agency. You can find a list of Ohio’s PCSAs by visiting http://www.pcsao.org/membership/agency-directoryand clicking on “Contact PCSA.” You also can visit the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies’ website at http://www.oacca.org/directory.html for a list of private agencies.
Attend the Required Pre-Service Training
All families or individuals that wish to become a foster family must attend pre-service training. These training sessions are typically offered on weekdays, evenings or weekends. The sessions will instruct prospective foster families on basic knowledge about foster care and adoption, agency policies, and the roles of foster and foster-to-adopt parents. In addition, the sessions aim to increase the prospective foster families’ understanding of foster/adoptive children’s situations, needs and feelings. During the pre-service training, all families will need to complete all required paperwork before filling out an application. NOTE: Criminal background checks are done on all adult household members. The agency you choose will send you to pre-service training.
Fill Out an Application
All prospective foster parents must fill out and submit an application to the agency. The application will ask about your family background and for a description of the child you seek to foster.
Complete a Home Study
The home study will be conducted by an assigned Licensing Specialist. The information requested for the home study will vary from agency to agency. However, the basic elements that make up a home study are personal interviews, home visits, submission of health records and financial statements, a personal statement, character references, educational training, a search of the statewide automated child welfare information system and criminal background checks. The assessor may have you provide or complete any number of documents. Those documents usually include: medical statements, a child characteristics checklist, a fire inspection, a safety audit, a financial statement, a local and federal criminal background check, and a water test.
Identify a Child for Placement
Once your family has completed the home study and been approved as a foster family, the agency will begin to match your family with children. The agency will identify children for placement in your home based on your ability to meet the child’s needs. Information about foster care board rates will be explained during this step. Prior to a child being placed in your home, your family should be provided with detailed information about the child and information regarding any specific financial and medical resources.
Pre-Placement of a Child in the Home
Prior to a child being placed with your family, you will be provided with the opportunity to discuss the characteristics of the child; given detailed information about the child, when available; given information regarding the child’s specific care or special needs; and given the child’s initial clothing needs.
Post-Placement of a Child in the Home
A child will be placed with your family after pre-placement visits when possible. The child’s social worker will aid your family and the child by making regular home visits, maintaining phone contact and helping with counseling, crisis intervention and resources.