Humans Services Consultants, Arizona's most innovative provider of human services, is seeking adults with a desire to make a difference in the life of a child in need, by becoming a professional foster parent. If you are interested in having a career at home while providing a stable and caring family setting for a foster child, our professional foster care program may be just for you! The rewards can last a lifetime!

Many people who are interested in becoming professional foster parents already have experience with children, either professionally or because they are parent themselves. We put a strong emphasis on training and education in our program; we have found that the children referred to our program have very special needs that can be challenging to even the strongest parent.

Our foster care programs are designed to provide a stable and caring home environment for children who need to be placed outside their own homes. HSC provides free foster parent training, assistance with obtaining your foster home license, and 24-hour support once you have a child placed in your home.

To begin this process, we have tried to answer common questions about what is involved with foster parenting and the steps needed to become a licensed foster home.

 

The children who need foster home placements

Children and adolescents of both sexes between the ages of 1 and 18 years are admitted to the program. They may require foster care because they have been abused, abandoned or neglected. In some cases, a child may require foster care due to their own behavioral health issues. Through our screening and evaluation process, HSC makes a concerted effort to match the skills of our foster parents with the needs of the foster child. During pre-licensure training, foster parents will identify the types of children's issues they feel most comfortable working with in their home. The age and sex of the children each foster family wishes to consider for placement in their home is also taken into consideration before the matching process begins. Foster parents read the placement profiles of children matching their identified criteria, and if they are interested in meeting a child, an initial match meeting is arranged. Before placement of a child in a foster home occurs, the foster parents and child will have a series of meetings, to determine if both the foster parents and the child feel comfortable with the proposed placement. If the child is old enough to be involved in the decision making process, it is by mutual agreement that a child is placed in a particular foster home. Our matching process is quiet intensive, as we know that finding the best fit between the child and foster parents increases the likelihood of a successful placement.

Children and adolescents placed in our foster care programs have a variety of histories and backgrounds, as well as behavioral and emotional challenges, including severe difficulties with functioning in the family, school setting, and/or the community. Children with delays in development, inadequate interpersonal skills, and a possible history or community disruptions (i.e., contacts with police, courts, and mental health system), may also be accepted for foster placement. Children with severe mental retardation, chronic aggressive or assaultive behaviors that constitute a danger to others, active suicidal gesturing, active and chronic involvement in drug or alcohol use, active disorientation or psychosis, and those children who cannot respond to the program's verbal nature may be excluded.

Program goals

1. To provide a stable and caring home environment, allowing a child's emotional, intellectual, and physical development to occur within a family setting.
2. To provide the child with opportunities to learn and practice essential interpersonal skills, such as communication, problem solving and decision making, which enhance his or her development.
3. To provide professional support in the process of reuniting children with their biological families, if that is the identified case plan.
4. To create and carry out a permanent plan for all children placed in HSC's foster care programs.


HSC services for foster parents and children

The foster care program staff works to integrate all parts of the child's life into the treatment process. Foster parents will work with a treatment team of other significant persons in the child's life to recognize and take advantage of teachable moments. Through out the treatment planning process, the child's strengths are identified and reinforced by the team members. Problematic behaviors are also identified, and plans developed to help the child to overcome them. All HSC foster parents are provided with initial and ongoing training as well as ongoing support services. Counseling services available through HSC include home-based individuals and family therapy, case management, psychiatric care when needed, referral to community resources, and 24-hour crisis intervention services.

Foster Parent qualifications

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) is responsible for setting the standards of foster homes, and issues a license for applicants who meet these standards. In addition, HSC requires foster parent applicants for our programs to complete training and experience beyond the state's list of minimal requirements.

Some of the requirements you should expect to meet in order to apply to foster or adopt a child who is a dependent of the court in Arizona are:

    • be 21 and a legal resident of the state,
    • clear a fingerprint investigation,
    • successfully complete a home study conducted by an HSC Licensing Specialist,
    • pass a home health and safety inspection conducted by the Department of Health Services,
    • have a room in your home for a foster child,
    • pass a physical examination,
    • provide HSC with current references, and
    • be certified in CPR and First Aid.

Beyond these state-mandate requirements, we have found that successful foster parents exhibit the following characteristics:

    • Tolerance
    • Flexibility
    • Sensitivity to difference
    • Ability to delay gratification
    • Openness
    • Strong support system

Above all else, we find that a sense of humor and the ability to see the good in all people is vital to success.

Foster Parent payment

The agencies referring children into our foster programs provide monthly financial support for their care. Foster parents receive a monthly check that will cover the expenses incurred while caring for a child. Reimbursements depend upon the difficulty of caring for the child, and may range between $900.00 per month and $3000.00 per month. Generally speaking, this reimbursement is considered non-taxable. Consult with your financial advisor for specific details.

Foster parents need enough extra money in their budget to support their family until the foster care reimbursement check is received. The State requires that your current financial situation be reviewed as part of the licensing process, to be sure that you have sufficient income and ability to manage finances in a way that best meets your family's needs.

Getting Licensed

Many people are surprised to find out that the licensing process can take quite a bit of time.

The steps to become license include the following:

    • Initial interview
    • Completion of application packet
    • Fingerprint submission and clearance
    • Background check
    • Home-study
    • Pre-service training

The entire process can take four to six months. While this may seem like a long time to you now, we have found that such a comprehensive licensing process is worthwhile. The children who need foster homes need us to be very careful about whom that State grants foster home licenses to, so they can experience life in a safe and caring family environment.

Pre-Licensure Training

The State of Arizona requires all foster parent to complete the PS-MAPP Curriculum (Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting), consisting of 30 hours of classroom training. In addition, the State requires18 hours of Therapeutic Foster Care training, for those families wanting to obtain a Professional Foster Home license. HSC may also require families to participate in a clinical observation of another professional foster home.

Knowledge, preparation, and planning are all necessary to creating a strong foundation for our foster parents. Also, while you may have raised your own children, or you may have worked in a clinical setting with troubled children, fostering is not the same.

Some of the topics' included in pre-service classroom training include:

    • Overview of DES and the behavioral health system
    • Child Development
    • Attachment and Bonding
    • Behavior management techniques
    • Crisis intervention
    • Grief and loss for foster families
    • Cultural diversity

Make a Difference!

We have found that all the challenges we face in this difficult work are worth it. To see a child grow and develop a sense of worth, to see them overcome their difficult life circumstances, to be a part of the solution addressing the problem: all of these are among the gifts that come with being a foster parent.

We look forward to continuing to work with you!