- What is a foster family?
- This is our name for individuals who are willing to care for children through foster care, legal guardianship or adoption.
- 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.
- What is adoption?
- Adoption is the permanent placement option for children who have been in foster care. Children are legally free for adoption only after the court has terminated the parental rights of the birth parents.
- Who are the children in State care, in foster care or awaiting adoption?
- Children in State care range in age from 0 to 21 and frequently are 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 more than 9,500 children in the State of Oklahoma are in DHS custody, and approximately over 2,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted.
Many children are in foster care because they were removed from their families due to abuse, neglect.
When a child is removed for his or her safety and protection, the State of Oklahoma will assist the child’s family and provide support in an effort to reunify the family. In some cases, despite everyone’s effort it is not safe for the child.
While we are working with the family to correct the conditions that led to the child being removed, the child is placed with a foster family. The foster family is the bridge that connects the child and the family while working toward reunification.
The foster family makes a commitment to be the permanent placement for the child and to help child maintain connections to those important people in their life, if the conditions cannot be corrected for the child to be reunified with the family.
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 and the child’s family.
If it is determined that reunification is not what is in the best interest of the child, the court can terminate parental rights or the family can relinquish their custody of the children. In more than half the cases where this occurs, foster parents eventually adopt the children they have supported through this journey.
- Do I have to be married?
- You do not have to be married. Applicants may be married, single, legally separated, or divorced. If married, foster parents have to be married one year or more.
- 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 place of residence. Foster and adoptive families must have a stable income.
- What are the costs of becoming a foster care or adoptive parent?
- The home assessment and training is provided at no charge. The majority of adoption expenses are covered by the State. There are costs incurred in obtaining a physical. There may be upfront costs in ensuring that your home is ready to care for a child.
- Do I have a choice in which children are placed into my home?
- Families have the opportunity to determine their preference when making a decision regarding placement. 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?
- It is our intent to support you in being as successful as possible. Some of the ways we may support you include regular contact with agency staff, respite (as appropriate), ongoing training, support groups, child care for foster children, home visits, team meetings, phone consultation, 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 and allowing for you and the child to get to know the doctor. 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.
- What are the age requirements to become a foster family?
- The minimum age is 21.
- What are the training requirements for becoming a foster parent?
- We have the following training requirements:
- Must complete Foster Parent Orientation
- Applicants must complete OKPRIDE – (Oklahoma Parent Resources for Information Development and Education), a 27 hr. pre-service training
- All foster parents must complete 12 hours of continuing in-service training per calendar year on subjects that promote their skills and interests as providers.
- Does this mean I have to meet the birth family?
- Yes, you will meet the birth family.
- Does this mean, when reunification is the plan, I have to actively work to help the family get their children home?
- Yes, as long as this supports the goal of the family service plan.
- Does this mean I have to be willing to talk to the birth families about how the child is doing in my home?
- Yes, make sure you understand any limits of discussion with your worker first. Situations change; keep communication ongoing.
- Does this mean I have to support or help model parenting for birth families during visits and interactions?
- Yes, your role may include teacher and/or mentor.
- Does this mean I have to find ways to make sure that the children and their families see one another?
- Yes, make sure that the type of contact is approved through the worker. Situations change; keep communication going.
- Does this mean I have to help the child maintain connections to people who matter to them?
- Yes, make sure the people and the type of contact is approved through the worker.
- Does this mean I have to have the birth family in my home?
- No, but you can if the relationship grows in that direction.
- Does this mean I have to go to the birth family’s home?
- No, but you can if the relationship grows in that direction.