Together We Rise – How to Become a Foster Parent

Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? The Stark JSF agency lays out what this process looks like and reports that in 2020, the governor made it even easier to foster children who are in need of a loving home.

This week’s Together We Rise article is brought to you in partnership with Stark JFS.

The first step in becoming a foster parent is a simple call. This is where an individual will walk you through next steps and answer any questions. If you are then ready to begin the licensing process, a licensing specialist will conduct an informational meeting to discuss the roles and expectations of being a foster parent with the agency. Each individual will complete pre-placement training, and a safety audit of the home will be done prior to licensure. A home study is then done once required paperwork and checks are concluded. It’s normal to have many questions during this time. A licensing specialist will guide you through the paperwork, pre-placement training, and other needed requirements to help make the process less overwhelming. There will be a family resource worker to work with you and provide support and guidance through every step of the fostering process, and the child’s caseworker will also be closely involved.

Your Role as a Foster Parent:

The goal of foster care is to provide for physical, emotional, and social needs of children in a “substitute” family setting until the natural family can be reunited or a permanent placement through adoption can be arranged. In doing so, it is also of necessity that you:

  • provide for school attendance, monitor progress, and note special needs and accomplishments
  • provide appropriate clothing
  • attend to medical and dental needs
  • help the child through the grieving and adjustment process that accompanies removal from their home and placement into your home
  • cooperate with visitation and assist the child in preparing to return home or be moved to another foster or adoptive home
  • maintain a lifebook, a record for the child of his/her time in your care, including developmental milestones, photographs, report cards, etc.
  • provide consistent and realistic discipline and guidance that is age appropriate and abide by SCJFS’s policy on discipline
  • be part of a case review and meetings when asked, or attend court when needed
  • provide transportation to visitation, counseling and other appointments
  • comply with state regulations and agency policies and procedures as outlined in the foster parent manual
  • provide recreational and enrichment activities that will provide the healthy development of children

This year, the governor signed HB 8. The bill reads, “Children deserve to grow up with their family. When children cannot remain in their own homes for safety reasons, they need trained, committed foster caregivers to meet their needs. HB 8 will make training more accessible and target it to foster caregivers’ needs, based upon the foster children placed in their homes. It permits up to 20% of preplacement training hours to be completed online, making it easier for working families and those with children in the home. Having the specifics of training requirements in rule rather than in law will enable Ohio to be nimble and comply with recent federal reforms under the Family First Prevention Services Act.”

In June 2020, there were Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rule changes which allowed for applicants to be 18 years old instead of 21 years old to apply.

Below are general requirements to become a licensed foster parent through The Stark JFS agency:

  • Individuals are at least 18 years of age
  • Single adults must have appropriate child care experience
  • Couples must live together for a minimum of one year
  •  Individuals must provide proof of sufficient income to meet the needs of the household
  • BCI, FBI, and Children Services background checks must be completed with no prohibitive offenses according to OAC guidelines
  • The home must be safe and stable environment
  • All individuals will complete pre-service training

The Stark JFS agency states that foster parents play a significant role through the duration of a child’s case and are greatly valued by the agency. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can reach the Stark JFS inquiry line at 330-451-8789.


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