Foster Care and
Become a Licensed Foster Parent
Foster Care is a challenging, yet rewarding opportunity that impacts the lives of both the child and your family. At Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties, our foster care department is dedicated to recruiting, training, and licensing loving foster homes for children ages birth through 17 years. The children we serve have been removed from their biological homes by the courts because of abuse or neglect.
Foster parents provide a safe and nurturing environment until the child is either able to return to their parents / guardians or an alternative placement is decided.
Helping children who are in need through foster care is a rewarding experience in many ways. Our foster parents report that they see positive changes in the children they care for and feel pride in meeting the challenges they face. They gain skills and knowledge through workshops and conferences and enjoy being a part of a team of professionals helping families and children in our community. Foster parents have the satisfaction of knowing their parenting skills are being used to positively impact the lives of others. Their own children and extended family witness their generous example of meeting the greater societal needs. The foster families we work with enjoy meeting new friends and making connections in the community. The foster family also earns a financial stipend to help offset costs.
- Helping children who are in need
- Seeing positive changes in children
- Satisfaction of using parenting skills to impact others
- Gaining skills and knowledge through workshops and conferences
- Being part of a team of professionals helping families and children
- Feeling pride in meeting challenges
- Exposing your own children and family to greater societal needs
- Meeting new friends and community connections
- Earning a financial stipend
If you have ever considered welcoming foster children into your home, here are a few things to keep in mind. To become a foster parent, you can be married or single, must be 18 years of age or more, and have a financial income. Foster parents must have good moral character and be willing to provide proper care in their home. They should be willing to participate in the training that is offered, have adequate time to spend with the child(ren), possess appropriate temperament, and have the ability to understand the basic and sometimes challenging needs of a child. Although each child’s needs are unique, every child needs the stability of a loving and caring family. You could fill that role for children in our area.
Catholic Charities staff provides a wide range of support for our foster parents. There is 24-hour assistance available, as well as crisis intervention. Our staff provides home visits with case management support, coordinates in-home supportive therapy for the foster family, and offers referrals for services or additional resources as needed for the child and family. We understand the commitment our foster families are making to offer a loving, supportive home for children in their care and are committed to helping support them in their evolving family role.
What is foster care?
• Foster care is temporary service for a child while the birth family receives the services or help they need. The primary goal of foster care is family reunification when possible.
What can you tell me about the children in foster care?
• The children in foster care are there because the court system has determined their well-being or safety was at risk due to abuse or neglect.They often come from unsafe environments and have needs that are greater than other children. Some will potentially have medical needs, developmental delays based on age, or require additional attention to emotional, physical or psychological needs. The biggest thing they need is a safe, loving home environment where they can thrive. The length of time a child is in foster care will vary and will be dependent upon many factors.
What are the misconceptions about foster care?
• There are often misconceptions that foster care is a good way to make money. Although there is a stipend provided to help defray expenses, foster parents sign up because they want to make a difference in the lives of the children.
The length of time a child will be in care is not known in advance and there is no way for it to be accurately predicted. This is not an “easy fix” for the families involved. The amount of commitment it takes from foster families is often underestimated. Foster families find that there are additional time requirements for casework management, meetings and appointments they may not have expected at first.
Another misconception is that foster parenting is a good path to adoption. Although sometimes foster parents are able to adopt, the primary goal of foster programs is to support and care for the child while reunification efforts with the biological family are assessed.
Why is parenting time with the biological parent(s) so important?
• The child’s wellbeing is always at the heart of our foster care program. Having time with their biological parents assures a child that they are still loved, even though they aren’t together right now. It is important to maintain the parent/child bond whenever possible for the child’s sense of security and self.
Should a foster parent get attached to the children in their home? Why?
• Yes! Foster parents should form an attachment with the children in their care. This may be the strongest bond the child has with anyone right now. Feeling loved, cared for and secure in their current environment gives the child a window of normalcy, without which healing and thriving may be difficult.
What can a foster parent do to help a child with separation/loss issues?
• A sense of loss or concerns about separation are expected when caring for foster children. Foster parents can help minimize the anxiety or other symptoms by showing consistent care and reassurance. It is important to give the child time to say his/her goodbyes and show respect for their possessions, which will remind them of home. The child may want to talk about their loss of contact with family members and the foster parents can assist by making sure they allow the child the opportunity to discuss their feelings. It is also important to provide structure to the child’s routine and rules, yet still allow flexibility for the unexpected.
What are the feelings foster parents have when children leave?
• Often, we find foster parents facing a mixture of emotions when the child leaves their home. Sadness, relief, guilt, and complacency are often encountered. The feelings are often unexpected but are natural reactions to the changing conditions.
What is the foster parent’s role regarding the birth parents?
• The foster parents will work with the caseworker to determine what involvement is needed. The foster parents may need to keep the biological parents informed about appointments and school events. They will need to let the child know it’s okay to love both the birth parents and the foster parents. And, the will need to be sure to maintain open lines of communication.
What are some things you should think about before deciding to foster?
- There are many things to consider when thinking about beginning the foster parenting role. Is this the right time to start this journey? How will my family and friends feel about this new challenge? How will we meet the transportation needs of the child(ren) we may care for? Will we be able to balance the schedules for the child, the caseworkers and other professionals who will be in our home? What about the time needed for additional services (Early On, WIC, therapy, etc.) that may be needed?
What are some of the personal characteristics needed to be a foster parent?
- A foster parent should have a sense of humor and patience. They should have the ability to read the child’s mood and be ready to help with the child’s issues. They should love each child’s unique personality and skills and help support the child’s confidence and wellbeing. And, as with an parenting role, flexible hours are often required.
What kind of support options are available for foster parents?
- Foster parents have a vast network of support, including support groups, therapists, social workers, other foster parents, and day care workers.
What kind of training do foster parents need? Why?
- According to our current laws in the State of Michigan, all foster parents must attend training. This training includes orientation and training with the PRIDE curriculum. Additional training may be offered. Training assures everyone involved that the children will be under qualified care.
What are the four steps involved in getting licensed?
- The four main steps in becoming a licensed foster home include application, orientation, licensing, and training.
What are three things licensing workers will assess about your family?
- Licensing workers will assess your family’s social history, criminal history, and safety of your home and surroundings when considering you for licensing.
Who decides which children a foster home should be licensed for?
- The licensing worker collaborates with the applicant to ensure children considered for the foster home will be best suited for that particular family. Many factors are involved in determining compatibility between the children we serve and families in our foster care program.
Why do some families wait a long time before having a child placed?
- Children are not always available for immediate placement. Sometimes, the requests for placement don’t match the specifications of the foster parent. All placements are made after careful consideration of all involved.
What are some appropriate reasons for becoming licensed?
- Appropriate reasons to seek licensing as a foster parent include your desire to provide loving, compassionate care for others. Prospective foster parents must have adequate time and energy to meet the needs of the child.
For more information on the current foster care orientation schedule, please send us an email.
Known as PRIDE, Parent Resources for Information Development and Education offers valuable resources to make sure you are ready to become a foster parent. Every licensed foster parent needs to complete 12 hours of PRIDE training.
Once you are licensed, you have 12 months to complete an additional 12 hours of PRIDE training. Six hours of ongoing training is required each year.
Expand Your Family Through Adoption
Every year, there are children who are available for adoption through our foster care system. Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties is licensed by the State of Michigan to provide Adoption Services for those children who have had their parental rights terminated by the State of Michigan. Our professional adoption staff works with families in order to carefully place these children into loving and stable homes.
Community Benefits of Our Services
- Locations in Jackson, Adrian, and Hillsdale to serve all of our counties
- Providing help and support throughout our local communities
- Opportunities available for interested volunteers
Learn More About
Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties