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My adventure as I jump into life all in!!

Foster Parenting Series: Paperwork

on September 5, 2017

In my last post, I talked about what led us to becoming foster parents. In this post, I will talk about the process we went through to get licensed as foster parents.

In 2012, we decided to look into becoming foster parents. We attended an informational session that was a sort of overview of what becoming a foster parent entailed and a bit about being a foster parent. After the session, we signed up to take the classes required to become licensed.

We attended classes for three months, once a week for 3 hours in the evening at our local community college. The classes were provided free of charge. There were about 10 to 15 other couples in the class with us, all of different ages and different reasons that led them there. The class was taught by a current foster parent and someone from the licensing agency. Throughout the class we talked about issues that foster children may have, the circumstances that may lead them to foster care, and tips on parenting them and correcting behaviors. It was highly stressed the corporal punishment (spanking or hitting) was a no-no, so we talked a lot about other ways to correct behaviors, and how some of their behaviors could be caused by their previous environment or their lack of control over their current environment. After all, the children don’t choose to leave the only home they’ve ever known, and they usually aren’t happy about it.

After the class, everyone was given the choice to continue and become licensed, or decide that foster care isn’t for you and leave it at that.  We chose to move forward and become licensed. Thus began the barrage of paperwork and home visits.

I cleaned our house like it had never been cleaned before and we filled out mountains of paperwork. I swear we even filled out the same papers twice because it was misplaced by the licensing agency. I felt like I filled out my name, birth date, and address hundreds of times by the time we were done.

People are often curious of what a home visit entails. What is the agency looking for, why so many visits, etc.? They are not looking into every nook and cranny of your home, they will not dig through your underwear drawer or the back of your closet or anything crazy like that. They simply want to make sure you have a clean home and that you have things necessary to take care of children, like a bedroom with a bed and dresser for them (and a certain amount of square footage per child, including your own), a bathroom, and functioning kitchen, and functioning fire alarms and CO2 detectors. They also want to make sure there is nothing in your home that is dangerous for a child, and that your cleaning supplies are locked out of reach of children as well as any firearms (if you own any).

As for the mountains of paperwork, they want to fingerprint you, learn about your past and how you interact with children in your own life (the licensing agency in our state asked for references and then ask those references for more references about us). They also need to do a background check, and they want to make sure you make enough money to take care of the child(ren) placed in your care (although you get paid by the state, they want to make sure you can function without it, so you aren’t just ‘doing it for the money’).

After what seemed like an eternal mountain of paperwork and multiple home visits, we finally got the news that we were licensed in the Spring of 2013.

In the next post, I will discuss what it was like to get our first call and placement.

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