Information for families interested in foster care and adoption in Northern Kentucky.
- Motivation to help children
- Love for children
- Positive attitude
- Flexibility and patience
- Work as a team member
- Good problem-solving skills
- Realistic expectations
- Provide a nurturing and structural environment
- Kentucky resident
- Between 21-65 years old
- Married or single; Must be married for at least two years
- Be in good physical and mental health
- No serious criminal convictions
- Own or rent a home that provides a safe physical environment
- My partner and I both work fulltime.
- I cannot afford another child in my home.
- I would get too emotionally connected.
- I have heard the application process is exhausting.
- I am worried I will not be accepted by the child.
- I am worried about the high level of scrutiny from DCCH services.
- I am worried the birth parents will try to contact me.
- I am fearful of not being approved to be a foster parent.
These are ALL valid concerns. These thoughts make you human. Fostering and adopting children can be incredibly challenging, and we are not here to tell you differently. On the other hand, it can also be incredibly rewarding and life changing! We want to provide you with as much support as possible by bringing awareness to barriers and challenges other foster parents have faced.
A child’s average length of stay in foster care generally depends on each individual case. Sometimes a child is in foster care for just a matter of days or weeks if another relative is found to be a suitable caregiver. An average of six months is likely when a child can be safely reunited with a birth parent. If the birth parent is unable or unsuccessful in meeting the goals of a treatment plan, and no other relative can be identified or approved, then an average length of stay might be up to two years while the termination of parental rights is sought and a child can be adopted by foster parents or moved to an adoptive family.
Foster-to-adopt is foster families begining the process of adopting children placed in their care after parental rights have been terminated. One of the greatest rewards for DCCH is finding “Forever Families” for foster children. First priority is given to foster families interested in adopting a child placed in their care.
Foster parents receive financial reimbursement and medical coverage from the State of Kentucky to assist with the cost of children in care. Even after children are adopted, many children will qualify for on-going assistance.
Children in foster care often want the problems in their families to be resolved so they can return to the people they love. Abused and neglected children are not always happy or grateful to be placed in a safe home with strangers. The new house may be bigger, cleaner, nicer and offer more luxuries than the child could ever imagine. However, the grief and pain of the separation from the child’s family overshadows these positives.
Children enter foster care because of substantiated abuse or neglect or the risk of such that cannot be ignored. Physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect that rises to the level of very serious harm or imminent death, in the eyes of a judge, will gain an emergency custody order or a finding of abuse, neglect or dependency from the court. Once this commitment to the state of Kentucky is given, children begin their journey in the foster care system.
Issues of family poverty and lack of resources, education, steady job opportunities sometimes lead to a family crisis that can contribute to the abuse and neglect of children. Special needs due to the physical health or mental health on the part of the parent or child could be other factors leading to neglect, abuse or child dependency. The intellectual limitations of a parent, and/or unrealistic expectations the parent has for the child, can also lead to neglect scenarios or opportunities for the children to be victimized by other perpetrators. Sexual abuse or incest by the part of a parent, relative or family friend is another reason children may be placed in foster care. Other relatives may be explored as caregivers while children are in foster care.
Issues of criminal intent and/or drug and alcohol addictions can and do lead to more serious forms of child abuse and neglect. Even in cases involving criminal and drug abuse when children might be relieved to escape scary episodes in their homes, they still love their family. They just want a clean and sober parent. Stories of family healing and reunification from this type of despair and chaos are absolutely heartwarming. We believe everyone deserves a chance to rehabilitate. Social workers, therapists and foster parents must do all they can to try to make that happen.
Foster parents are expected to work in partnership with birth parents and DCCH when the goal is reunification. The level of interaction with birth parents depends largely on the foster parents’ comfort levels with the situation. Limits may be enforced if birth parents are not cooperative or if there is any risk of danger to the child or foster parents.
Visits between foster children and their birth parents are generally preferred to be held at the birth parent’s home, a public place or social services offices. Foster parents will be expected to help with the transportation of the child during visits. DCCH will not ask foster families to host a visit at their home, but sometimes foster parents have been inclined to offer this after they become comfortable with the birth parent.
Identity of and privacy for foster parents are safeguarded by DCCH, however, foster families should recognize that the children may share certain details while on a visit or phone call. Foster parents will not be asked to interact or communicate with a birth family in a setting in which they are uncomfortable. However, many foster parents are open and willing to share with their contact information with birth families to help the child stay connected with family members.
Foster parents are expected to provide safe, nurturing and welcoming homes to children in their care. Foster parents are also instrumental in helping assess the foster child’s strengths and needs. DCCH asks foster homes to help keep records of the child’s progress and important information such as their treatment status, school, medical, dental, and therapeutic needs. A handbook of rules and regulations is provided to all foster parents to help guide their work with the child and DCCH. Some of these guidelines may require a more structured set-up in the home and safeguards for foster children, such as locking and securing alcohol, medicines and hazardous cleaning supplies.
Foster parents are also expected to have open and direct communication with the case manager and other team members, allowing the social worker into their home for visits to talk and see the child. Foster parents also must have an overall understanding that serving as a foster parent requires opening their lives, including sharing personal details of their life and schedules.
We desire for foster parents to encourage children to become involved in school activities, and pursue extracurricular activities when appropriate. They should be sensitive to children’s cultural needs, including spiritual development and allow them the opportunity to continue with their faith practices or expose them to those of the foster family, if the child doesn’t have a preference.
DCCH offers numerous supports to help the foster family be successful with the child placed in their care:
- A bachelor’s level case manager is assigned to each family and child. The case manager will communicate weekly with the family to guide and support them and also serves as a liaison with the state social worker, therapist, birth family and any other agency team member involved.
- The director of the program is available as back-up support for the foster family anytime the case manager might be out of the office.
- The program offers 24/7 emergency cell phone coverage to also assist after hours or weekends.
- The agency hosts a monthly support group, where families are encouraged to attend, meet and socialize with other agency foster families. A meal is served and child care provided when the adults are invited to attend a one hour educational discussion, counted toward ongoing training requirement.
- An annual spring appreciation dinner, summer cookout, fall gathering and a Christmas dinner with gifts are scheduled each year as special quarterly events.
- DCCH provides on-site mental health therapy for the foster child, siblings and family when recommended.
- DCCH also has a child psychologist and a child psychiatrist to see the children, and to consult with the team and foster family about any issues involving the child and family.