When you decide to become a foster parent, one of the most important decisions will be which agency to work with to get your license and foster placement. Most states have both public and private foster agencies, and each agency is ran a little differently. It is important to find an agency that will work with you and support you as a foster parent.
The Length of the Licensing Process
Depending on your state, foster licensing usually involves an application, background check, training, and home visits. Some agencies can expedite this process, and you can receive your license in just a few weeks. Other agencies have a slower process and it may take a couple of months to go through your training and get your license. You should keep in mind that some agencies can also expedite applications for kinship care or if you have a particular child who you want to foster.
The Types of Children the Agency Places
Some agencies work with a particular group of children. For example, some agencies may place more children with special physical needs while others may work with children who have experienced higher levels of emotional trauma. Other agencies may work only with children with lower levels of trauma and average physical needs. When interviewing an agency, be sure to discuss your capabilities regarding foster children and make sure the agency places children that fit you.
What Training the Agency Provides
Most agencies that provide licensing also provide the training necessary for the licensing. However, some agencies provide licensing while referring parents out to a public training program. While many training programs are similar, you should make sure the agency provides training that fits with your schedule, whether that is nights and weekends or a faster-paced training during a single week.
What Support Services the Agency Provides
Before choosing an agency, you should learn which support services they provide. Do they only help you get your license, or do they also help with placement? Once a child is placed with you, do they provide continuing resources to help you and the child adapt to your situation? These are all questions you should ask before choosing an agency.
While you can switch foster agencies after getting your license, it is easiest to continue the entire process of placement with the same agency that does your licensing. Because of this, it's important you pick an agency you want to work with throughout the entire process
For more information, visit a service such as Kids Count Too.