As you begin, first look at the different “Ways to Foster” and decide where you fit. Making a decision can be taxing. Search out friends and foster parent support groups for their recommendations.
Different types of agencies provide foster care and adoption services in Ohio. You will want to research several agencies before deciding which one works for your family. A searchable directory of agencies providing services to prospective foster or adoptive parents in Ohio can be found through the ODJFS fostering and adoption website.
Finding an Agency
You might call the agency to request information or visit their website. Below is some general information to help you get started.
Public Children Services Agencies (PCSAs)
Each of Ohio’s 88 counties is responsible for child protection and placement services for the children and families within its county boundaries. The children services program may be part of the county department of job and family services, which also provides food, cash, and employment assistance or serve as a free-standing Children Services agency.
Most counties operate their own foster care and adoption programs and also contract with private agencies for foster care or adoption services for children or teens with specialized needs. A county might be joined with another county or contract with private agencies for all of their foster care services.
Private Agencies (PCPAs, PNAs)
Private agencies are certified by the state to provide foster care, adoption services or both. Private agencies are funded by a combination of government contracts, fees for services and their own fundraising.
They set their own geographic service boundaries; some serve only one or two counties while others serve the entire state. Private agencies develop contracts with the counties that send them children. When a private agency says they are statewide, they generally mean they will accept from any part of the state. That may not mean they are equipped to adequately service the foster families from all parts of the state or search out placements and establish contracts in your locality.
Taking children into care from areas far from your home, means you may be taking long trips in your car meeting all the requirements for family visitations, educational services, medical appointments and quick responses to crises in the home. If the agency provides transportation services, it may mean a child traveling to events without your support.
Each private foster care agency recruits, trains, licenses and supports its own pool of foster families. Private agency foster parents must meet all the state licensing requirements, and some agencies establish additional criteria for their foster parents. Often, children placed with a family through a private foster care agency will have a county custodial caseworker as well as an agency caseworker. Sometimes, the private agency is responsible for all services to the child and his or her family under a contract with the county, and the private agency assigns the custody caseworker.
In Ohio, public child service agencies and private agencies both provide foster care and adoption services.
FYI: The Ohio Adoption Guide provides a good overview of the adoption process and a list of agencies that can offer adoption services in the state. You can find it at Ohio Adoption Guide
FYI: AdoptUSKids is a project of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. It has great information and resources on adopting a child or teen from foster care.
FAQ: What criteria should I use in choosing an agency to work with.
Public vs Private Agency Selection
As always in Ohio, this decision depends on the county and the agency. Currently, in 3 of our counties, you have no option but to select a private agency (and that number may increase).
1. Once you have decided why you are fostering:
2. What kind of services will your family need while you foster? Check out the details as you decide.
3. The ODJFS website offers a list of questions you may want to ask the agencies.