Time Frame for Becoming a Foster Parent

When you are ready to become a foster parent, it can seem like time drags on until you receive your first placement. Keep in mind that there are multiple steps required to become licensed. These steps are meant to keep the child safe by ensuring they go to a capable, compatible home.

On average, the process to become a foster parent takes between four and twelve months. This is from orientation to when you receive your first foster child. It may take longer or could be expedited, depending on numerous factors – including your own diligence in providing all the necessary information in a timely manner.

Phase One: Gathering Information

During the first phase of the process, you will schedule an orientation meeting with the OKDHS or a private agency, according to Metro Family Magazine. At the meeting, there will paperwork to fill out.

A few things you will need to provide your caseworker, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, include:

  • Social security cards for all members of the household
  • Paycheck stubs or proof of alternative income sources
  • Marriage certificate
  • Vaccination records for any pets in your home
  • Driver’s License

Once you have provided these and the initial paperwork is complete you must obtain background checks for all members of your household over the age of thirteen. All household members over the age of eighteen must also be fingerprinted.

This first phase takes approximately three months.

Phase Two: Education & Home Study

Oklahoma Fosters states all applicants undergo 27 hours of mandatory foster care training. This program is called OKPRIDE and will provide information necessary to ensure you genuinely want to foster. At this point in the process, many families decide fostering is not for them and that is okay. Fostering is not for everybody.

During the same timeframe as training, a caseworker will perform a home study. This involves three surprise home visits along with interviews with friends, family, neighbors, and household members.

This second phase can take anywhere between three and twelve weeks.

Phase Three: Finalization & Placement

male foster parent and female foster parent with foster child.

A happy couple spending time with their beautiful foster daughter while at home.

When everything is complete, your caseworker will ask you to sign a contract. They will then ask about placement preferences. You have the right to restrict the age or gender of children, as well as refuse sibling groups of any number. The best situation is a home willing to care for older children or teenagers, as these are the most restricted and the most in need.

Finally, you will receive your first foster child. The Adoption Organization website states this last step can take as little as a week, although it may depend on how restricted your placement preferences are.

Learn More About the Process of Becoming a Foster Parent

If you have any further questions about how long it takes to become a foster parent or about the fostering process in general, please contact us today. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Do You Get Paid to Be a Foster Parent?

Television portrays an unrealistic view of what foster parenting is. It is most often depicted as something people do to earn easy money whilst neglecting the children in their care. This view is an unrealistic view of people being paid to be a foster parent for two reasons:

First, foster parents are visited every three months by their caseworkers. If the children in their care suffered neglect, they would be taken to a different resource home and the foster parent’s license would be revoked.

Second, the money given to foster parents by the state would not be enough for a sustainable household income alone.

Woman who is not paid to be a foster parent helping her foster children paint

Art lesson. Happy delighted talented children lying on the floor and painting while developing their creativity

Not Paid, but Reimbursed

People are not paid to be a foster parent but reimbursed. Although the total subsidy payment varies based on how many children are placed in the home and what their exact needs are, We Have Kids (a popular fostering advocacy blog) states that estimated monthly payments fall somewhere between $450 and $650 per month.

If a set or group of siblings are placed in your home, you will receive more than if you were fostering a single child. Likewise, if you foster a special needs child you will receive additional monies because they will require additional items or care.

These payments are meant to assist in providing the children with their basic needs while in your care. This might include clothing, food, extracurricular activities, toys, and school supplies.

Additional Assistance

Foster children in Oklahoma also have health insurance called SoonerCare. This insurance covers physical health, mental health, dental, and medications with no co-pays. Transportation assistance to and from these appointments is also available at no cost.

Sometimes a child will be allotted a clothing allowance. This is typical of children who have just been placed in the foster care system with limited to no personal belongings and is usually around $100 twice a year.

Even with these payments, however, nobody is getting rich from becoming a foster parent. People who go into fostering with the idea they will make a livable income will quickly learn the truth.

It is not unheard of for foster parents to spend beyond their financial assistance on the children in their care, and at most, families break even on their expenses. Therefore, it is vital resource families decide on fostering because they want to make a difference, not earn a few dollars.

Learn More About How You are Paid to Be a Foster Parent

For more information on foster care or the financial assistance provided to resource families contact us today.

Things You Need to Know about Becoming a Foster Parent

Becoming a foster parent can be a rich, rewarding experience for many families hoping to open their homes to children in temporary need. It is important, however, to go into fostering with realistic expectations. There are many things you need to know prior to making such a large decision.

Becoming Licensed is a Process to Becoming a Foster Parent

Some hopeful fosters are under the idea they can simply sign up and have a child placed in their homes. This is not true.

AdoptUSkids states there are multiple steps to becoming a foster parent, and it can take anywhere from four months to a year before getting licensed. If you hope to foster a child, you will need to:

  • Take foster education classes
  • Meet with social workers
  • Have a case study done
  • Get background checks on all household members over age thirteen
  • Fill out questionnaires on the placements you are willing to receive.

There may be more steps required for certain placements or prospective foster families. Your caseworker can help ensure you’ve met all the requirements.

Not Full Parental Rights

A little girl is playing cricket in her garden . Her foster mom is playing as backstop , and her foster dad is bowling to the side of frame. They are smiling and having fun. Becoming a foster parent.

Girl playing Cricket with her foster family

According to the Oklahoma Department of Family Services (OKDFS), prospective foster parents must be willing to work as a team and understand they do not have the same parental rights as birth parents.

Foster parents can sign certain waivers, receive emergency medical care for placements, and make daily decisions regarding a child’s welfare. However, foster parents will work as part of an advocacy team for the children in their care and may not have the final say in many decisions. This advocacy team will include the child’s caseworker, doctors, therapists, and birth parents (if applicable).

Not Only the Rich can Foster

Foster families come from as many diverse backgrounds and social statuses as the children placed in their care. The OKDHS tells us that the requirements for being a foster parent are broad. You must be over 21, have healthy inter-household relationships, room for additional children, and maintain a steady income, among few other things.

Challenging as it is Rewarding

While being a foster parent is a truly rewarding experience, it is not an easy one. Foster children will come from all backgrounds and may act out in ways you are unfamiliar with. They were removed from their families for fear of their safety, meaning they could have come from physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive backgrounds. Many foster parents also find it difficult when children leave their care after extended stays.

For more information about becoming a foster parent contact us today.

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Is Fostering a Child Right for You?

For those with compassion for others, and the drive to give back to their community, fostering a child can be a wonderful experience. The opportunity to give a child a secure home may seem fulfilling, but it’s important to assess whether this commitment is right for you. By making an informed decision, you can ensure that you are prepared to enter this life-changing role to provide foster care for a child.

What are Your Expectations for Fostering a Child?

Before you decide to apply to be a foster parent, it’s important to analyze your expectations. Do you expect to eventually adopt a child? Will you be willing to foster multiple children at one time? What lifestyle changes do you anticipate? By considering these factors ahead of time, you can decide if taking further steps is the best choice.

How do Your Family Members Feel about You Fostering a Child?

Especially if you have children of your own, it’s important to talk to your family about their opinions on fostering a child. By being open and honest with your partner and children, you are more likely to receive honest thoughts in return. This ensures that everyone in your home will be willing to provide a safe and nurturing space for a foster child.

How Would Foster Children Fit into Your Current Lifestyle?

Retired, elders decide fostering a child was the right decision for lifestyle as they play in backyard

Becoming a foster parent will create some changes to your current routine. It’s important to decide how well you can adapt your lifestyle to these changes. For those with school-aged children, this could mean allotting more time for transportation and activities. For retired people, it may mean re-introducing the presence of children in the house. Assess your current lifestyle and how it will change if you become a foster parent.

Are You Ready to Take the Necessary Steps to Become a Foster Parent?

While you may be ready to provide love and support to a child, it’s essential that you are prepared for the logistical process of foster care as well. From social work assessments to interviews, this rewarding role takes time and effort to achieve.

Learn More about Becoming a Foster Parent

Deciding to become a foster parent is both rewarding and selfless. It can change the lives of vulnerable children in your community. To guide your family’s choices, your local foster care organization is available to answer your questions. Being thorough in your decision and collecting plenty of information can lead to full preparedness when you enter foster parenthood.

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Can I Foster as A Single Parent?

When people think of foster parents, they often imagine a couple who takes in children. If you are unmarried, though, you might wonder if you can foster as a single parent. The good news is that your marital status does not influence your ability to become a foster parent. As a single parent, though, you might have specific concerns and questions.

Can I Pick the Child or Children That I Foster?

Woman who acts as foster as a single parent reading to foster child at park in fall

While this is not a concern unique to unmarried foster parents, the reasons for your concern could be legitimate. Maybe, you’re an unmarried woman who is not comfortable having teenage boys in your home, or as someone who works a full-time job, you only want to foster older children whose school schedule is similar to your work schedule. Perhaps, you don’t feel like you can adequately care for a child with a severe physical handicap. The good news is that no matter the reason for your concern, you can pick the children you foster as a single parent.

Who Will Care for the Children When I Take a Business Trip?

Being out of town for a few days at a time does not disqualify you from being a foster parent. Just like you would do with your birth or adoptive children, you can decide who cares for your child or children while you are gone. This could be a friend, family member, or someone else that you trust. If you are gone for less than seven days, you do not need the caregiver approved. You should simply use your best judgment. If you are going to be gone for seven to thirteen days, the caregiver must be approved through the agency. Formal respite caregivers who are also approved foster homes may also be used.

What If I’m Not Good at Parenting?

Just about every parent has this concern whether they are married or not. The key is simply to do your best to provide the love and stability that the children need. Be the person they need in their lives. If you have the desire, you’ll likely do a good job.

Learn More about How to Foster as a Single Parent

Contact us to learn more about being a foster parent.

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Foster Parenting: What Does It Take?

What Does it Take to Foster?

With the current political climate, helping children is on a lot of people’s minds. But what can be done? Some people might protest. Others might donate to campaigns or organizations that can help. But, anyone looking for an incredibly fulfilling way to help children should consider becoming a foster parent.

Now almost everyone knows what it means to be a foster parent, but what does it take to become one? According to the OKDHS, or Oklahoma Department of Human Services, any applicant for foster parenting must meet the following requirements:

The applicant needs to be at least twenty-one years old, in good physical health, and sound mental state. In addition, the applicant needs to have maintained healthy relationships as appropriate for marital and living status. The potential foster parent must also have a functioning vehicle, be able to properly accommodate sleeping and living arrangements for each foster child placed under his or her care, provide proof of financial stability outside of any foster care reimbursements, and provide references of upstanding character.

Furthermore, the applicant and any other household members older than twelve must submit to a background investigation. Should a criminal background check reveal a history of any abuse, whether confirmed or alleged, the applicant will be disqualified. Upon completion of the background check, the applicant must agree to subsequently complete all required training and agree to comply with all OKDHS disciplinary rules. These include, but are by no means limited to, refraining from smoking in any confined space with the child present and, if necessary, agreeing to work with social workers and the child’s biological parents.

A mother and daughter playing at home in a tent.

Learn More About Becoming a Foster Parent

These are the general prerequisites for becoming a foster parent; however, you can find a list of the full legal requirements here. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Oklahoma, please contact us with any questions or concerns. Becoming a foster parent requires a large time commitment and a lot of work, but, for anyone looking for the fulfillment of helping a child in need, there’s no question of whether or not it’s worth it.

Oklahoma Needs Foster Parents Like You

TFI Family Connections is a privately owned nonprofit organization that provides foster care services for children and families in Oklahoma. We want to help guide you through the three to twelve month process to receive a foster parent license. Here is some of the information you will need to get started:

Providing Stability

The foster care system is state regulated, so each state will set its own rules. The state of Oklahoma requires applicants to be at least 21 years old and be in reasonably good health. This is necessary to ensure that the person is ready to be a foster parent. The children in the foster care system have most often been neglected or abused, and placing them in the home of a person who is in ill health could cause them further distress. The goal is to help these children find stability while protecting and nurturing them.

Orientation

There is a required orientation, lasting 27 hours, and must be attended by the applicant as well as their spouse or partner. The 27 hours are broken up into 9 sessions and it is required that each session is attended. Some states will require that applicants take pre-service training classes, that training is included as a portion of the orientation in Oklahoma. These sessions cover a wide range of information including protecting and nurturing, healthy development, safety, and more.

Assessing Your Home

The home assessment portion of the process will take an average of three to six months. This home visit includes assessing the safety of your home, as well as ensuring the adequate space and privacy requirements are met. This is also the time when the background and fingerprint checks are conducted, as well as any family interviews deemed necessary. Caseworkers will also verify that your financial information is in order. It is important to note that an applicant’s spouse or partner is required to participate and cooperate with this part of the process. However, it is not required that an applicant have a spouse or partner as applicants may be single, married, widowed, or divorced.

Happy family having fun times at home together

Learn More About the Foster Process

For more information go to Oklahoma Fosters or Adopt US Kids. And if a private service is right for you or you would like to contribute a donation you can go to TFI Family Connections.

I’m Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent—What Steps Do I Take?

Maybe you’ve seen advertisements encouraging families to consider opening their home to a child. Maybe someone in your neighborhood cares for foster children and has described how rewarding and fulfilling the experience has been. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it and considering it for quite some time. Whatever the case, you are feeling called from within to look into the possibility of fostering a child.

Your open, caring heart is in the right place. The need is there, now more than ever. More than 9,000 children in Oklahoma are currently wards of the state. While nearly half of these children will eventually find homes with extended family, the remainder rely on foster parents to provide loving homes that are a safe and welcome refuge from difficult, unsafe situations.

I’m Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent—What Steps Do I Take?

Foster parents provide temporary housing and care to children who are in transition because their home has been deemed unsafe or inappropriate. The goal of the program is to reunite the child with his or her family if at all possible, and a traditional foster parent works with the Department and the child’s birth family towards that end. If it will be impossible for the child to return to the family home, however, the foster parent may apply to care for the child on a permanent basis through guardianship or adoption.

Beginning the process of becoming a foster parent is straightforward and clearly delineated, and TFI provides support and guidance every step of the way. Spend some time on our website to learn more about the role of a foster parent, then fill out the application when you’re ready to start the process. The process includes a home visit, fingerprinting and background checks, as well as extensive training to prepare you for this worthy, meaningful commitment.

Basic requirements to foster a child:

  • Must be 21 or over
  • Must be in good health
  • Must have enough space to accommodate additional children
  • Must have an income sufficient to handle the needs of your household
  • Any marital status is welcome, but if you have a spouse or partner, they must also participate in the training and home visit
  • Must be able to nurture and provide love and care to a child

Become a foster parent—and positively impact a child’s future with your love and care. Contact TFI to learn more!

Summer is here! Here’s how to have fun with your foster children!

The sun is shining, school is out, and it’s time to have some summer fun. Get the whole family involved and make plans to spend some quality time together.

This time off from school is a great opportunity for you to connect with your foster child. These summer months are also critical for foster children, many of whom have moved around a lot during the school year. If they have fallen behind in their schoolwork, now is the perfect time to help them catch up.

Consider some fun activities that come with a side of education and learning. Many local museums and art galleries have special summer pricing for kids and families (and some even host free entry days!). Try out a history museum, and then follow it up with an outdoor trip to the park. Active learning!

If your budget allows, you can also consider summer camps for your foster child. These camps are a great way for foster children to socialize, make new friends, and learn new skills. They often come with fun outdoor activities, too, like swimming and hiking.

The warm summer months are a great chance to help your foster child experience brand new things. Take a trip to the beach, check out a baseball game, or go for a fun bike ride. These new experiences will turn into special memories for your foster child, and will help your relationship grow.

Remember that summer adventures don’t always have to be grand. Head to the library to pick out a few books on a rainy day. Hold a weekly movie night and eat some popcorn while watching your favorites. Work together to plant some new flowers in the backyard.

Need even more ideas?

  • Volunteer! Show your foster child the importance of giving back and connecting with their community.
  • Head to a local farm to pick fresh fruit. Bonus points if you cook something with them. Mmm raspberry cobbler!
  • Go for a campout. You can find a local campground, or set up a tent in your backyard. Roast smores, and take time to relax and look-up at the stars.
  • Play miniature golf.
  • Go to a drive-in movie (yes, they still exist!).
  • Go to the pool and lay out in the sun.
  • Go horseback riding.
  • Feeling adventurous? Go zip-lining!
  • Have a picnic. Make the meal together and then head to a fun place to eat it!
  • Learn something new together: try out music lessons (and start your own family band!) or take a cooking class.
  • Join a summer reading club. This is a great way to keep your foster child reading and learning throughout the summer, and usually comes with a little prize when they reach their reading goals.

Remember that whatever you do, you are spending quality time with your foster child, and letting them know they deserve your attention. Have fun!

Becoming a foster parent: how to decide if it’s for you

Foster parenting is a big, but rewarding experience. Helping vulnerable children by providing them with a safe and loving home is a selfless way to give back and support those who need it the most.

If you’ve been considering becoming a foster parent, but still aren’t quite sure, there are ways to evaluate if it’s right for you.

Spend time with children (of varying ages): Volunteer at an after-school program or group home facility. Offer to babysit for current foster families (this is also a great way to help support them and give them some time away!). Work with your local foster agency to see if they need someone to watch the kids during their regular foster care or group meetings.

Take a class (or two!): Sign up for trainings or courses on children and child development. Learn more about parenting and adolescent growth. Many colleges and community centers provide classes like this. You could also check with your local foster agency for their offerings.

Make sure you’re financially prepared: Foster parents receive financial support from the state’s agency, but it is important that you are fiscally responsible and are able to support the current needs of your family, and the new foster child.

Know the rules: All states are different, so it’s important to check out what your state requires of you to become a foster parent. What is the age requirement? How many references will you need? What is the application process like?

Consider your space: Make sure your home is big enough to add another person, and check if your local agency has any size requirements for bedrooms.

Think about transportation: A new person to care for comes with a bevy of new appointments. Do you have reliable transportation to take your foster child to the doctor, to school functions, and to meetings with the foster care agency?

Assess your adaptability: Sometimes a foster placement comes with very little warning. Are you ready and willing to take on a child without much notice?

Be prepared to change someone’s life: Foster parenting fills a gap between what a child needs and what their family is able to currently provide. Children in the foster care system deserve love and care, and to know that someone is looking out for them. Having this in their life is transformational.

When you’re considering the foster parent route, don’t be afraid to ask questions. TFI Family Connections is always here to provide you with the help and support you need to make the best choice for you and your family.