Foster Care FAQS
Foster Care. It may be the hardest, but most rewarding thing you ever do!
Q. WHAT IS THE NEED FOR FOSTER PARENTS?
There is an ongoing need. In 2019 there were roughly 10,887 Oregon children in foster care at some point throughout the year. Department of Human Services (DHS) needs more caring and supportive foster families to ensure that more children stay in their same neighborhoods, aren't separated from their siblings, and get the individual attention they deserve. Diverse families are also needed to help kids grow with a strong sense of racial and cultural identity.
Q. WHO ARE THE CHILDREN WHO NEED FOSTER PARENTS?
Children living in foster care may be infants, toddlers, preschoolers, grade school age, or teenagers. They also come from many types of backgrounds, cultures, and families. They are like other children, each with their own special personality, abilities, interests, and potential.
Children entering foster care have been hurt by abuse or neglect. These children may have higher needs related to these experiences, including the grief and loss of being taken from their families.
There is a high demand for foster parents who can care for sibling groups, ensuring brothers and sisters can stay together. Families that enjoy working with teens and can guide them toward a positive future are also in high demand. Additionally, there is a need for Native American, Hispanic, and African American foster families. There is a need for YOU.
Q. HOW DO THESE CHILDREN COME INTO FOSTER CARE?
Foster children come to the attention of DHS in a variety of ways. Friends, neighbors, or relatives may report that a family does not appear to be giving adequate care to their children resulting in unsafe conditions. Physicians, nurses, teachers, school administrators, social workers, and foster parents are required by law to report any situation in which children are in need of protection.
Q. HOW LONG DO CHILDREN STAY IN FOSTER CARE?
On average a child will spend 599 days in foster care. It is always difficult to know how long a child may be in foster care - most often the length of time is directly related to their parent's ability to engage in services designed to help them keep their children safe. As a foster parent, you may choose the type of placements you will accept. Some placements may last for a few weeks, months or even years.
Q. WHAT KIND OF FOSTER PARENTS DO THESE CHILDREN NEED?
No two families look alike. They are as diverse as the children needing homes. Each comes from their own different life experiences, levels of education, income, occupations, and lifestyles. Successful families are caring people who are ready to make a commitment to a child, and are open to learning new things.
Q. WHO CAN BE A FOSTER PARENT?
There is no set standard for being a foster parent. Older adults, single people, or couples with or without children may foster parent. Applicants should posses the ability to exercise sound judgment and demonstrate responsible, stable, and emotionally mature lifestyle. Couples in which both partners are working may also be considered for foster parenting.
- You can be single, married, or domestic partners
- You can live in a house or apartment, but must have room to house a child
- You can work inside or outside the home
- You must be at least 21 years of age or older
- You must have sufficient income to support your family
- You must be able to physically care for a child
- You must pass a child abuse and criminal background check
Oregon welcomes and supports all families equally. Families of every race, culture, and ethnicity are needed to help children grow with a strong sense of racial and cultural identity. Applicants are considered regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
Q. WHAT ARE FOSTER PARENTS PAID?
Foster parents are volunteers who receive a monthly check for each child's care expenses. The rate foster parents are reimbursed varies. It depends on each child's age and level of need. Children's medical and dental costs are also covered by a state funded health plan.
Q. IS THERE A LIMIT TO HOW MANY CHILDREN I CAN FOSTER AT A TIME?
Your certifier will determine how many children would be appropriate to place with you based on your own circumstances and preferences. State guidelines allow for up to 4 children per single parent household, and 7 children per two parent household. So, if you are a single parent and have 1 child of your own living at home, you would only be allowed to accept a maximum of 3 foster children.
Q. HOW DO I BECOME A FOSTER PARENT?
Please fill out Every Child PDX's connect form and we will connect you with our partners at DHS Child Welfare who will share with you the specifics. You will be invited to an orientation in your area to help you better understand and decide if foster parenting is right for you.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESPITE CARE AND SHELTER FOSTER CARE?
Respite care is equivalent to babysitting.
While Multnomah County does have a respite list (Clackamas and Washington do not), the easiest, most consistent way to for a foster parent to get respite is to ask specific friends or family members to be their respite providers. A background form is requested through their DHS certifier. This background check paperwork can then be handed from the foster parent to any interested individual interested in doing respite care. With respite care, there is no payment. It is a foster parent working out childcare needs with a background checked individual.
Shelter foster care requires becoming a certified foster parent and completing 24 hours of Foundations training. DHS is the one calling and arranging for a child to come to your home and there is a stipend that comes with shelter foster care.
Q. CAN FOSTER PARENTS ADOPT THEIR FOSTER CHILD?
The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth families or extended family members whenever possible. Of all children leaving foster care, roughly 60% are reunited with their families. If this is not possible, children may benefit by being adopted by their foster parents with whom they have become attached and built a relationship, but there are many things that factor into this. If you are interested in having a child become part of your family permanently, you are encouraged to pursue adoption directly. You can fill out our connect form and we'll connect with you our partners at DHS Child Welfare who can share more with you about adoption.
Q. CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT ADOPTION THROUGH THE STATE?
Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a child when a child cannot return home.
Some children are placed through adoption with other family members or non-related adults with whom they have a significant attachment. Foster families may also be considered to adopt the child in their care if the child becomes available for adoption. It’s important to know that DHS prioritizes relatives for adoption whenever possible.
Sometimes none of these options are available, and a new family is found for the child. Adoption is a way to give children the security, a sense of belonging and the unconditional love they need. Adoptive parents have permanent, legal parental rights and responsibilities to the children they adopt.
Most of the waiting children in Oregon are school-aged and many have special needs related to the abuse or neglect they've experienced. Some are part of a group of siblings who would like to stay together. What they all have in common is the desire to belong.
The process of both fostering and adopting through the state both require applicants to go through the state’s 24 hour training class and a home-study process.