About Foster Care

WHAT IS FOSTER CARE?

Foster care is a temporary, court-ordered placement outside of a child’s own home. It can last anywhere from one night to a few years, depending on individual circumstances. Safety and permanency for our children are our primary focus. The biological parent is still the child’s legal guardian, but the Monroe County Department of Human Services becomes the legal custodian of the child until he or she can be returned home to a safe environment.

Many foster children are freed for adoption when our best efforts to safely reunite them with their families are not successful. Some choose not to be adopted but to stay in foster care until they are ready to plan a transition into the community, which can be anywhere from age 18-21.

REASONS FOR FOSTER CARE

Children are placed in foster care for many reasons. Parents may have a chronic or acute physical or mental illness that prevents them from providing adequate care. In other cases, parents struggling with drug or alcohol addictions simply can’t provide a safe and nurturing home. When there’s abuse and/or neglect, the Department of Human Services becomes involved. Teenagers sometimes have emotional and behavioral problems of their own. Persons in Need of Supervision, or PINS, and Juvenile Delinquents, or JDs, may be placed by the court into foster care as a result of behavior. Persons in Need of Supervision can be chronically truant from school, home, or out of the control of their parents. Juvenile Delinquents have been convicted of a crime through the juvenile justice system. These young people may be ordered into foster care in hopes of rehabilitation. Other professional support services are available as well.

CHILDREN YOU CAN FOSTER

There are many different children who you can foster: infants and toddlers; school-age children; sibling groups; and teenagers. Infants and toddlers comprise approximately 25% of children in foster care. Nationally, more than 85% of children in care have siblings in care, but only 25% are together. Teenagers make up roughly 33% of the foster care population. We have a particular need for foster families who like caring for teens.

In addition, we need homes for pregnant and parenting teens, the medically frail, and for those with developmental disabilities. These children are from all ages, races and economic backgrounds.

HOW TO BECOME A FOSTER PARENT

Becoming a foster parent takes time, but is an interesting and rewarding journey. We work with you to make the process as easy as possible. The first step in the certification process is to call the Monroe County Homefinding Unit at (585) 753-6522 or the Foster Care Information Line at (585) 334-9096. Next, attend an information session near you. If interested, you may take an application at the meeting – complete it, with references, and return it to the County. Monroe County then completes a local child abuse clearance and if cleared, you will be contacted by phone from a caseworker to schedule a visit to your home. If you all agree that foster parenting may be for you, you will be enrolled in a 10-session training class called MAPP (Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting). Half-way through the class, a second home visit will be scheduled with your caseworker. You then continue and complete the training class at which time a final home visit will be made out to your home. After a mutual assessment of readiness, then your caseworker completes your home study and you’re certified to welcome children into your home.

WHY BECOME A FOSTER PARENT?

There are many children in our community (Monroe County, NY) who need safe, secure, loving homes. If you become a foster parent, you will have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of these children today and in the future. The rewards are rich.

THE NEED

The U.S. has roughly 540,000 children in foster care. Monroe County, NY alone has 390 foster children – 247 of them in foster homes; the rest in group homes or in higher levels of care. The number of certified foster homes available locally decreased by 20% in recent years. One reason is a positive one — many foster families have adopted the children they had fostered, filling up their available beds and completing their families. Nevertheless, there is a continual need for more homes to keep up with the number of new foster care placements made each year.

KIDS WIN

With consistency, structure, and unconditional love, foster children can make amazing strides in foster families. They have an opportunity to see how in-tact families operate, which in turn positively impacts their lives. They also have the chance to experience things they may not necessarily be able to in their biological families, such as involvement in extracurricular activities, outings in the community, and even family vacations. Oftentimes, foster children return to foster parents years later thanking them for making a difference in their life.

YOU WIN

Becoming a foster parent has many rewards. You become a key player in making a positive difference in the life of a child. You also contribute to the healing and reunification of struggling families. Often, foster parents have life-long relationships with their foster children after they return to biological families. Foster parents are recognized each year at an annual Foster Parent Appreciation Event.

In addition, Monroe County has support services for their foster families. A caseworker is assigned to each foster parent, who will guide you through the necessary steps to become and remain certified. Training classes are offered every year on a variety of topics, such as crisis intervention, child development, and sexuality education, which can be very helpful in working with the children in your home.

Also, you will have direct access to doctors and nurses at Starlight Pediatrics who specialize in the physical and emotional needs of this unique population.

Lastly, you will receive a daily board rate, semi-annual clothing allowance, and Medicaid coverage for children in your home. In addition, foster parents are reimbursed for school supplies, diapers for children up to age four, and mileage to appointments, trainings, and the like associated with the children in your home.

WHO CAN BECOME A FOSTER PARENT?

You can be a foster parent whether you’re male or female, married or single, and rent or own a home or apartment. You must be a Monroe County, NY resident, and at least 21 years of age, but there is no maximum age limit as long as you’re healthy and able to actively parent a child. And you can be a foster parent even if you work outside of the home. Also, there is no minimum income requirement, but you are required to submit verification that your income meets your needs so you are not relying on the foster care stipend for financial support.

If you have a love for children and a desire to make a difference, consider investing your time and energy in our community’s children.