Frequently Asked Questions

What is a foster family?
Families or individuals who care for child(ren) by providing a temporary safe and nurturing environment.
What is foster care?
Foster care is a temporary home for children needing out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect. Foster families provide a safe and nurturing home and are committed to working with birth families to reunite children with parents, when possible.
Do I have to be married?
You do not have to be married to foster. Applicants may be married, single, legally separated, or divorced. If married, foster parents must be married more than one year prior to taking a placement.
Do I have to own my own home?
Foster parents do not have to own a home. In fact, many foster or adoptive parents rent their residence. However, foster and adoptive families must have a stable income.
Who are the children in state care, in foster care or awaiting adoption?
Children in state care range in age from birth to 21 and are frequently part of a sibling group that must remain together. More than half of the children in care are children of color. Some of these children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities ranging from mild to severe.
Why Must Children Wait?
On any given day, there are thousands of children in Oklahoma DHS custody, and many of those children are waiting to be adopted. Children are in foster care because they were removed from their families due to abuse or neglect.
When a child is removed for their safety, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will provide support in an effort to reunify the family.
While DHS caseworkers work with the family to correct the conditions that caused the removal, the child(ren) is/are placed with a foster family. When possible, the foster family maintains the connection between the child(ren) and their biological family while working toward reunification.

Sometimes it takes months or years to determine if the family can be reunited. During this time, foster families become great advocates and true supporters of the child(ren) and the child(ren)’s family.
If it is determined that reunification is not what is in the best interest of the child(ren), a judge may terminate parental rights, or the family may relinquish their custody of the child(ren).

What are the costs of becoming a foster care or adoptive parent?
The home assessment and training are provided at no charge. Most adoption expenses are covered by the state of Oklahoma. Some uncovered expenses include the cost of a physical exam and the purchase of items to ensure the safety of the home.
Do I get to choose which child(ren) is/are placed in my home?
Families identify their preferences regarding placement prior to receiving requests. DHS is child-focused and our goal is to find families who will meet the needs of the children we have in custody.
What type of support services are provided after a child is placed in my home?
Upon placement of a child in your home, DHS and/or your recruitment agency will make regular contact with you as well as provide additional supports including: respite (as appropriate), ongoing training, support groups, child care for foster children, home visits, team meetings, phone consultations, and a formal process for sharing your concerns.
Do my foster children have medical insurance?
Yes, each child in DHS custody has coverage through Medicaid (SoonerCare). SoonerCare covers pharmacy, behavioral health, specialty and regular doctor visits at no copay to the foster parent. SoonerCare encourages parents to schedule a well-child visit with a doctor for the children in their home. Well-child visits are more comprehensive than a physical and are a time for the doctor to make sure your child is growing and developing like they should. A list of SoonerCare providers can be found at www.okhca.org/findaprovider.

SoonerRide is a non-emergency transportation service that can assist in getting you and the child to medical appointments. You can either be reimbursed for mileage or have a SoonerRide vehicle transport you and the child to their appointment. For more information, visit: www.okhca.org/soonerride.
When a child is placed in your home, your worker should provide you with a login for the Health Passport. The Health Passport is a website where you can see the medical records for the child in your home for the duration of the time they have been covered by SoonerCare.

To learn more about SoonerCare benefits, please access our Member Handbook online at www.okhca.org/memberhandbook.

Do I have to meet the birth family?
It is likely you will be asked to have contact with the birth family, etc. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in order to meet the needs of the child and their family.

When reunification is the plan, do I have to help the family get their child(ren) home?
Yes, when reunification is the goal of the family service plan, it is likely you will be asked to have contact with the birth family, etc. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in order to meet the needs of the child and their family.
Do I have to communicate with the birth family about how their child is doing in my home?
It is likely you will be asked to have contact with the birth family. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in order to meet the needs of the child and their family. In many situations it is ideal for the child to see the foster and birth parents work together.
Do I have to support or model parenting for the birth family during visits and interactions?
Yes, your role may include teacher and/or mentor.
Do I have to ensure the child(ren) and their family see one another?
It is likely you will be asked to have contact with the birth family. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in order to meet the needs of the child and their family. In many situations it is ideal for the child to see the foster and birth parents work together.
Do I have to help the child maintain connections to people who matter to them?
Yes, after you make sure the people and the type of contact is approved through the worker.
Do I have to have the birth family in my home?
No, hosting the birth family in your home is not a requirement. However, many foster families develop a relationship with the birth family and invite them to visit their home. This can alleviate the birth family’s concerns as well as demonstrate to the child(ren) that their support network is robust. it is likely you will be asked to have contact with the birth family. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, in order to meet the needs of the child and their family.
Do I have to visit the birth family’s home?
No, visiting the birth family’s home is not a requirement. However, many foster families develop a relationship with the birth family, resulting in an invitation to the birth family’s home. This can provide foster families more insight into the child(ren)’s background.
Who takes the child(ren) to visits?
If the foster parent is able to provide transportation to and from visits, that is usually best for the child(ren). However, if the visitation schedule does not meet the foster family’s schedule the child’s worker or a case aide can provide transportation.
How will I receive my reimbursement?
You will receive your Oklahoma Foster Care Reimbursement card in the mail quickly after becoming certified. Your monthly reimbursement will be automatically deposited onto your card each month.
How do I view how much is on my Oklahoma Foster Care Reimbursement Card?
Your card will be mailed along with directions for how to set up your account, download the WAY 2 GO app, and set up an automatic transfer to your primary bank account. The app will also provide you with a balance.
How do I pull money off of my Oklahoma Foster Care Reimbursement Card?
To withdraw funds from your account, go to an ATM, just as you would with a debit card. If no ATM is available or you would prefer a bank, go to your bank and request a cash advance for all funds on your card.
What items can I buy with the reimbursement?
Foster parents receive reimbursement for the costs associated with the care of a child in their home. How you spend the reimbursement is up to you and the needs of your foster family.
Who can watch my foster children?
Foster parents can exercise the reasonable and prudent parent standard to identify an informal care provider for up to seven consecutive days of care. If a child will be with another caregiver for seven to 13 days, that caregiver must be approved through the agency. In both instances, foster parents can select other individuals who they know, trust, and believe will provide a safe place for their foster children. Foster parents may also access formal respite caregivers that are approved foster homes.
Can my foster child(ren) spend the night at a friend’s house?
A foster parent is encouraged to use their best judgement when allowing a child to spend the night at a friend’s house.
How do I report an issue?
Oklahoma Foster Parent Voices provides a neutral setting for DHS-certified/approved foster parents to submit complaints to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) concerning the rights of foster parents as well as complaints alleging retaliation by a Department of Human Services or a child- placing agency employee.
How often will the worker make unannounced visits?
Once every three months, the child’s worker will complete an unannounced visit to ensure the child(ren)’s safety.
Is counseling covered under the child(ren)’s insurance?
Yes. Counseling is covered 100% by SoonerCare.
Who can request a Court Appointed Special Advocate?
Any party to the case can request a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Who can request a family team meeting?
Any party to the case can request a family team meeting.
Can I write a court report? If so, who do I submit the report to and when?
Yes you can write a court report. Procedures may vary by county. Contact your child’s worker for more information.