Foster parents are critical partners in helping children transition to foster care and feel comfortable in the homes of their foster families. The Stark County JFS agency supports these foster parents and their relationships with the children placed in their care through offering training, resources, and continued assistance.
At Stark County JFS, they strive to provide support, not only during the initial inquiry of becoming a foster parent, but throughout the entirety of the fostering process. Individuals can begin the process of becoming a foster parent through calling the inquiry line at 330-451-8789. From the first initial phone call, there will an individual from the agency to answer questions and explain next steps. A licensing specialist is available to guide foster families through paperwork, pre-placement training, and other needed requirements to become licensed. Ongoing training will also be done with the family once they are licensed. Each licensed family will be provided with a family resource worker who will provide ongoing case management, including continued support of the family, advocation for the foster family’s needs, and assistance with keeping the home maintained in compliance with agency rules and state mandates. Throughout a child’s time with his/her foster family, the family resource worker visits with the family in their home and helps them navigate case activities such as family visitation, court hearings, reunification, and adoption.
Other available supports and resources include:
- A daily board payment for each day the child is in the home
- Paid mileage for transporting foster children to case required activities
- Financial support for clothing expenses
- Medical card/paid medical expenses for foster child
- WIC benefits and services
- Paid childcare for working foster parents
- Access to support groups and individual mentoring
- Respite care from other licensed foster homes
- Yearly agency appreciation events hosted by the agency
In addition to the supports and resources provided by the state and county, foster parents benefit from a strong personal support system. A strong support system of friends and family is essential when becoming a foster parent. First, foster children need to be treated and seen as any other member of your family. Family and friends accepting foster children as a part of the family, no matter how long that child is in the home, helps the child adjust and feel secure in a foster parent’s home. Second, self-care is important for any parent, but is especially important for foster parents. Friends and family members can support foster parents through supporting foster children, just as they would biological children. Foster parents can have friends and family approved as alternative caregivers to assist with babysitting, transportation to activities, or just general caretaking. This allows foster parents the flexibility to receive additional support from the agency, such as attending training and support groups, and it allows foster parents to enjoy personal time away from parenting duties. Emotional support is another key part of a foster parent’s self-care. Being a foster parent comes with a unique set of challenges, and this can be difficult for others to know and understand; however, the more a foster parent’s own family and friends are involved in the process, the more likely they are going to be understanding, empathic, and supportive to the parent and the child. A foster parent may need to vent at times, and family and friends can help by taking the time to listen to the parent’s experiences. When family and friends choose to accept the foster parent’s journey through the fostering process, they are in the position of being able to support the foster parent, join in the joys and triumphs of fostering, and be a part of the family’s growth.
Foster parent, Emily Downin, was licensed on October 14th, 2020.
After becoming licensed, her family and friends threw her a shower to help welcome her to parenting and show their love and support.