Asked Questions about Foster Care
is foster care?
care is the temporary placement of children outside of their own homes.
It occurs because of abuse, neglect, or other family problems. When possible,
the Department of Children and Family Services and other agencies
work with families to reunite them. When that's not possible, measures
are taken to get the children adopted -- or prepared for independent life.
kinds of children need foster homes the most?
kinds of children will need foster homes. The children who currently need
homes the most are:
we pick out the child we want?
can express a preference on the age, race, and sex of the child that you
think would best fit in with your family. You do not have to accept a
child you do not want.
single foster persons care for foster children?
many foster children can we take?
depends on factors such as your ability, your enthusiasm, how many children
you have of your own, and how much room you have in your home. The
maximum number, including your own children, is set out by DCFS licensing
all foster children have problems?
of them do, to some degree. Many are frightened and confused at the sudden
separation from their parents. Some are angry. Others may think they are
being sent to a foster home as punishment. Even babies may be extremely
fretful and irritable at first. These problems gradually lessen, though,
as a foster child comes to know that you care for him or her.
kind of support will we receive?
parents in "regular" foster care programs receive a monthly
check to cover the child's food, clothing and personal allowance. The
amount of the check is based on the child's age.
foster child gets a medical card from the state which guarantees payment
for all necessary medical care and preventive medicine. You will be given
a number to call to get help in selecting a physician for a child placed
with you. The medical card is also accepted by many hospitals and
for approved prescriptions. You should not pay any medical bill directly.
children go to regular public schools, unless they need special education,
for which the state can pay. Private or parochial school tuition cannot
be paid by the State. Foster children may attend private or parochial
schools, but only if the tuition is paid by some other source.
supervising child welfare agency and your child's caseworker are responsible
for supporting your family on a daily basis. Each agency, including
DCFS, has developed internal supports, which include foster parent support
groups, newsletters, after hours telephone numbers, and community resources.
Department of Children and Family Services provides overall support to
licensed private child welfare agencies with foster care programs, while
maintaining its own foster care program. DCFS also directly provides universal
foster care information and impartial advocacy for all foster families
do we become foster parents?
call to 1-800-624-KIDS to express your interest will result in a local
DCFS or private child welfare agency representative contacting you about
foster care. A representative will then make an appointment to come
your home. That person's job is to decide, with you, if foster care is
a good plan for your family and, if so, how you can best help foster children.
representative will also give you an application and a medical form to
have filled out for each member of your family. Because the law
requires that a criminal background check be run on all applicants,
you will be fingerprinted. In addition, references you provide will be
these checks are being run, you will attend training classes to help prepare
you for your future role.
types of foster parents are there?
foster parents begin to care for children whose goal is to be reunited
with their birth parents or other family members as soon as possible through
a "regular" foster care program for abused or neglected children.
abused or neglected children need more intense services to be provided
by the foster family who must possess additional skills to meet the individual
needs of that child. Foster parents who either already have necessary
skills, or are willing to be trained to meet the special needs of these
foster children, may become part of a "specialized" or "treatment"
foster care program providing intensive services. These foster families
also receive extra payments and training.
long does it take to get a foster child?
licensing and training process takes from four to six months. After that
process and your training are completed, children can then be placed with
will our children react to foster children?
you've prepared them well for the coming of a foster child and they understand
the temporary nature of foster care, there should be few problems.
It's not unusual for your children to be a bit jealous at first -- just
as they might be jealous of a new baby in the family.
foster children need individual bedrooms?
A foster child can share a room with your children or other foster children
of the same sex. Usually, the child must have a bed of his or her own.
A foster child may not share a bedroom with an adult -- except for brief
periods due to the child's illness or another need for attention.
we take our foster child on vacation with us?
most cases, yes. But if it involves out-of-state travel, you must call
your child's caseworker in advance for approval.
our foster children go to church with us?
Usually, you will get children whose religious background is similar to
your own. But if a foster child is of a different faith, he or she
must be allowed to attend worship in that faith.
a child's birth parents visit him or her?
most cases, yes. In fact, visits between parents and children are
an essential part of the efforts to reunite families. The child's caseworker
has the primary responsibility for planning visits and arranging supervision,
if required. The caseworker will talk with you and the child's parents
to work out the time and location of the visits.
we ever adopt a foster child?
first goal is to return foster children to their families when that is
possible. However, if a foster child who has been in your home for
some time becomes available for adoption, you can discuss your interest
in adopting him or her with the caseworker. At that time, you would
have to meet all of the regular requirements for becoming an adoptive
information on adoption in general, call the Adoption Information Center
of Illinois at 1-800-572-2390.
it be hard on us when the foster child returns home or is adopted?
is, in fact, the hardest part of being a foster parent. You will certainly
feel sad for a time. It's only natural -- just as it's natural
for your foster daughter or son to want a family of their own. But
there will always be new foster children who will need your care and affection.