Becoming a Foster Parent
At the heart of Beech Brook’s mission is the belief that every child should grow up in a healthy, loving family. Unfortunately, there are many children whose parents are not able to care for them. When children must be removed from their birth families, Beech Brook’s foster care and adoption programs provide caring families to nurture and support them.
Since many foster parents also choose to adopt if their foster children become available for adoption, Beech Brook’s training classes prepare families for both options. Families at Beech Brook can choose to be certified in one of three ways: adoption, foster care or dual certification in both.
Beech Brook foster parents are an important part of the treatment team for children who have been removed temporarily or permanently from their birth families. In addition to traditional foster care, Beech Brook also offers therapeutic foster homes for children and teens who require a higher level of support and mental health treatment.
At Beech Brook, foster parents receive extensive training and support, including:
- Intensive initial training
- Ongoing monthly training
- Experienced foster parent mentors for guidance and support
- Respite services, in and out of the home
- 24-hour emergency support
- Case management
- Competitive pay
- Holiday parties and activities for families and children
If you’ve been thinking about foster care, you’ve already done the hard part! Call Beech Brook at 216.831.2255 or contact our Foster Care department.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a Beech Brook foster parent?
The first step is a telephone call to Beech Brook to learn more about the process and requirements for becoming a foster parent. The next step is an orientation, where in-depth information about Beech Brook and the services we provide for foster families and children is presented. Following the orientation, if you decide to move ahead, you’ll complete a formal application. Over the next few weeks, you’ll attend a comprehensive pre-service training program.
What are the qualifications for a foster parent?
- You must be at least 21 years of age.
- You can be married or single.
- You may be a homeowner or may rent your house or apartment.
- You must provide proof of a stable income to meet household expenses.
- Your home must pass a fire safety inspection.
- You and everyone in your household must have a physical exam.
- You and everyone over the age of 18 must pass a criminal records check.
- You own and are licensed to drive a vehicle in order to transport your foster children.
What if I have children of my own?
Many foster parents also have children of their own. It’s important that everyone in your household supports the decision to foster children since everyone is impacted by the addition of another family member. We will interview everyone over the age of four.
How will my child/children be influenced by the presence of a foster child?
All children are influenced by their peers, whether in school, in the neighborhood or in the family. That’s why it’s important to involve your child or children in the decision to foster and to discuss the issues involved in foster parenting in an age-appropriate way.
Do foster children need their own room and bed?
Foster children do not need to have their own room, but they must have their own bed. They can share a room with children of the same sex; however, an adult cannot share a bedroom with a child. The rules require that every child in the family, whether your own, foster or adoptive, must have his/her own bed. You should not change your own child’s sleeping arrangements to accommodate a foster child.
Where do the children come from?
Most children in foster care are coming from families in crisis. This may be the result of abuse or neglect, homelessness, parental illness or death. The children may come from their own homes, another foster home or a residential treatment setting. The children are typically referred by a public children’s services agency.
Do the children visit their parents or families?
Many foster children will return to their own families once the crisis has been resolved. While the child is in care, it’s important that the relationships with parents and siblings be maintained. Early in the child’s placement, a visitation plan is arranged.
How long do the children usually stay?
Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation. The ultimate goal is to return every child to his/her own family or to a permanent home. The average length of stay is six months to one year, although this can be shorter or longer depending on the situation.
Isn’t it hard to say good-bye when it’s time for the child to leave?
Some foster parents are concerned about separation and loss issues when the foster child must leave their home. In many instances, the foster parents remain connected to their foster child or children and continue to serve as a resource for many years.
What if I want to adopt my foster child?
If a child becomes available for adoption and there are no other relatives able or willing to adopt the child, foster parents then have the first option. Beech Brook will help you through the adoption process.
Do I have any choice about the child or children I foster?
Yes. Beech Brook matches the needs of the children to the strengths of your family. During the home study process, we’ll reach a mutual agreement about the types of children to be considered for your home, including the number, age range, sex and behaviors that you feel prepared to handle.
When a referral is made, we will call you to present as much information as possible about the child based on the above criteria. You have the option of accepting or rejecting the placement at that time.
Will I get to meet the child or children before I decide?
Most foster children are coming out of a crisis situation and need a home immediately, usually within 24 hours. In some cases, children may be coming out of a residential treatment setting. In these instances, there may be time for pre-placement visits.
Will I get paid to be a foster parent?
You will be reimbursed for the cost of caring for a foster child. This reimbursement, which is tax exempt, includes a difficulty-of-care and room-and-board per diem, as well as a personal expense allowance for the child.
What kind of support can I expect from Beech Brook?
Beech Brook offers a wide range of support to foster families, including:
- 24-hour emergency support
- Case management services
- Intensive initial and ongoing training
- Competitive pay
In addition, depending on the child’s needs, Beech Brook may provide:
- Individual, group and family therapy
- Art and music for the foster children
- Psychiatric consultation
- Independent living skills for older teens
Beech Brook also will match experienced foster parents to serve as mentors who can help provide guidance and support to newly licensed foster families. A foster parent support group offers additional opportunities for sharing questions and concerns.
Holiday parties and activities throughout the year also provide a chance for both families and children to relax and get better acquainted.
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