The needs and roles of foster parents change across time and look different across counties in the United States. Foster care can bring up a variety of scenarios. Although it’s not possible to have answers for every specific situation, below are a collection of frequently asked question from other prospective foster applicants.
How does a child enter foster care?
When it has been found by a court of law that a child has been abused or neglected by their primary caregiver(s) within the family home, a child will enter foster care. Case managers with DCFS will make reasonable efforts to prevent children from entering foster care, such as moving a trusted family member or friend into the home, connecting families to needed services or having the child stay with relatives or fictive kin for a temporary period of time. When these resources are not available within a family unit, or they are impossible to utilize, children enter into foster care.
Why are foster homes needed in my community?
Children in foster care are the same kids attending your neighborhood school, playing at the local park, and racing around the baseball field. Without caring foster homes in our community, abused and neglected children must be placed in outlying areas, away from their family, friends, and everything that is home to them.
What age and demographic groups are in need of foster homes?
The Rural Region is always in need of homes for children of all genders and age ranges. There is a particular shortage of homes that will accept:
- Teens (ages thirteen to eighteen years)
- Medically fragile children
- Sibling groups with wide age range parameters (i.e., a sixteen-year-old with a four-year-old sibling)
How many children are in foster care?
The rural region reports an average of 400-450 children in care at any given time.
In what areas of Nevada do you license foster homes?
While we do not license for Clark and Washoe Counties, we do license for:
- Carson City
- Nye County
- White Pine
What is expected of foster parents?
Foster parents are expected to provide a safe, stable and nurturing home to every child placed with them. Foster parents are responsible for meeting the daily needs of their children by providing food, shelter, transportation, recreational opportunities and educational activities. They are also expected to meet their children’s medical needs by scheduling and accompanying them to necessary medical and therapeutic appointments. Foster parents (no cap parents) support their children by preparing them for reunification with their natural parents. As part of this process, foster parents are expected to develop relationships with the child’s natural family, transport the child to family visits, and maintain the child’s connections to their siblings if they are separated.
How long does the process take to become licensed?
There is no specific timeframe with the licensing process, although the most accurate time period will probably reflect between six to nine months. There are multiple variables that can lengthen or shorten the wait time. To help shear off as much wait time as possible, follow these steps:
- Complete the paperwork/online forms accurately and in a timely manner.
- Complete the first available training that you and your spouse/partner can attend.
- Complete and submit your assignments for the training as quickly as possible.
- Once you have completed the training and you’ve received your Post-training Packet, complete and submit the packet as quickly as possible.
- Be working on preparing your home for the Home Inspection. To view the Home Inspection Highlights, go to: . To view all of the regulations for foster home licensing in more detail, please go to the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC): NAC: CHAPTER 424 – FOSTER HOMES FOR CHILDREN
- Once your home study is assigned to a licensing worker, that person will contact you to begin setting up your home visits. The more flexible you are with your time, the sooner your visits can begin!
Is there an option to be licensed only for adoption or foster-to-adopt?
The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services does not offer licensing specifically for adoption or the option to foster a specific child long-term with the express intent to adopt. There is an overwhelming and critical need for families that are aligned with reunification being the first goal of permanency. The majority of children in foster care have parents with their rights still intact who are making efforts toward creating a safe environment to which their children can return. The ideal candidate for fostering understands that their role is to support rebuilding families as opposed to legally severing relationships. When adoption happens through foster care, it is viewed as a last resort. If parental rights are terminated or parents relinquish their rights, next of kin, siblings, applicable tribal affiliation, community of origin, and many other factors are considered before choosing a specific family to be the adoptive placement. While adoption does occur, families that are motivated to adopt or to build their family through fostering are not likely to find what they are looking for through this program.
Can you reserve foster children who you’ve heard about or somehow know will likely need to be adopted?
DCFS is unable to predict what children will successfully reunify with their biological families and which ones will be in need of an adoptive home. In most cases, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that biological families are afforded at least twelve months to attempt reunification with their children. Plans for adoption are not considered until reunification efforts have been exhausted after that twelve-month period and the permanency plan has been changed to adoption by a judge.
Do I need to be married to be a foster parent?
Absolutely not! You can be single, married or in an unmarried relationship.
Do I need to own my home?
No, you don’t; however, if you rent, you will have to get written permission to foster from your landlord. A recreational vehicle (RV) or a camper would not be an acceptable living space.
Who is included in the service team for foster children?
Every child’s situation and support team looks different but some common support members include foster parents, biological family members, social workers, case managers, attorneys, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), teachers, therapists, licensing worker, connections advocate or a probation officer.
What are some of the topics discussed during the home study interviews?
The purpose of the home study is to understand as much about you and your family’s past, present and future as is possible. The goal is for the Division to be able to make the best possible placement matches between children and families. Some of the topics covered include your lifestyle, general parenting practices, relationships between you and other family members, your physical and mental health and your family’s considerations in accepting placements. Areas in your life such as incurred trauma, substance abuse history and criminal history are also explored.
Can I foster with past criminal history?
Many individuals are concerned whether or not they will be disqualified from fostering due to past criminal history. Individual situations vary but many are surprised to find out they still qualify to foster. The Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) dictate which offenses can disqualify someone from being approved to foster.
To view criminal disqualifiers, go to NRS 424.031: NRS 424.031 NRS: CHAPTER 424 – FOSTER HOMES FOR CHILDREN.
Are there other ways I can help other than fostering?
- As a member of your community, you may belong to various groups and organizations like the school district, a parent-teacher organization, local children’s groups, or a faith-based community! You can use the power of your voice to tell others you know about the need for foster homes in your area!
- Partner with DCFS to help us recruit other foster homes! We are always looking for other agencies, organizations, community partners and faith-based communities to host or sponsor a recruitment event!
- Help us organize community drives for gift cards, dining cards, toys, food, and/or brand-new clothing items for foster children.
- Become a sponsor and/or vendor every year for DCFS’s Angel Tree Project!
- If you own a business, consider putting foster care recruitment brochures in view of your customers and employees!
- Become a CASA! For more information, go to: Home – National CASA/GAL Association for Children.
- Join Bikers Against Child Abuse! For more information, go to: Bikers Against Child Abuse® International | Breaking The Chains Of Abuse.
How do I know if fostering is right for me?
Only you and your family know your home best and will be able to best answer this question! While deliberating, some important points you should consider:
- Do I, or does my family, have the time and patience to help another child and their family?
- Do I/we have a strong support system among my/our family and friends?
- Does everyone in the household feel the same way you do about fostering? Because if they don’t, it will be extremely difficult to go through this process.
- Do I/we view challenges in life as an opportunity to make situations better? Or does the stress of it immobilize me/us?
- Do I/we have the strength to calmly manage behaviors of children who have experienced trauma and may be acting out as a result?
- Do I/we have the ability to process through grief and loss with children placed with me/us?
- Is it difficult for me to ask for help with something, especially when I haven’t needed to before becoming a foster parent?
- Can I give myself permission to NOT have all the answers and to ask for additional resources for children’s specific needs?
- Am I able to help biological parents in a non-judgmental way, in their journey to rebuild their lives so that their children can return home to them? Even if I feel that the children shouldn’t be returned?
- Can I love a child so much that I will be crushed when they leave my home to reunify but let them see only the pure joy I feel to be a part of this incredible miracle?
How do I get started?
First, have a meaningful conversation with your family members to evaluate where they stand with this decision and how supportive they’ll be of you. Being a foster parent ‘takes a village’ and whether that’s by physical help or providing any other tangible support, you should know ahead of time, where you stand on the matter with your family and friends.
Begin your online registration by clicking the blue “Get Started” button on the bottom or top of this page!
If you’d like to speak with a live person first, please call Foster Care Recruitment Worker, Shelby Riley at 1-888-423-2659!