There are nearly 13,000 kids in the Michigan foster care system. These children have been separated from their birth families for a variety of reasons and need a loving home where they will be safe and cared for until they can hopefully be reunited with their birth families. Foster parents provide a much needed loving and stable environment for children ages newborn to 18 years old from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. There is always a need for adult foster parents.
Trina Kent, Resource Family Development Team Leader, works for Samaritas, the largest non-profit agency working with foster care in Michigan. Kent recommends, “contact and attend as many orientations at different agencies as possible to find the agency that feels best for you and your family.” Agencies typically host orientation meetings monthly, and if you have a spouse or live-in partner you should both attend.
Next, complete an application, which will include paperwork such as medical forms for all family members and submitting to fingerprinting and background checks; etc. Once approved, the licensing process statewide takes an average of six months, according to Kent, but Samaritas is able to license most of their foster parents in 100 days.
Foster parents can foster from one to six children, depending on the home evaluation. Foster child placements typically are less than twelve months due to the goal of reuniting children with their birth families. Foster families may even provide transportation for foster children to visit with their birth families weekly.
Calming common concerns
You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a foster parent. To be a foster parent you must be 18 years old and of good moral character. You can be married or single without regard to sexual orientation or marital status. A background, criminal and sex-registry check will be performed on all applicants. Your home needs to be safe for children, but it doesn’t matter if you rent of own your home.
Foster parents receive ongoing training and support to help them meet the demands of caring for the children placed in their care. The state provides bi-weekly reimbursement to cover the costs of clothing, food, etc. for the child. If a foster parent works, the state can help cover the cost of daycare, if needed.
Being a foster parent isn’t easy, but if you love children and feel drawn to fostering, Kent urges people to explore the possibility. The positive impact you can have on the life of a child has lasting effects.
The basic process of becoming a foster parent:
- Contact a child placement agency.
- Attend an orientation meeting with the agency.
- Complete an application.
- Attend training.
- Participate in a home evaluation.
Local Foster Care Agencies
Catholic Social Services
Hands Across the
Water- Ann Arbor
Holy Cross Children’s Services
Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services
Orchards Children’s Services