Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption...Foster Care and Respite Care

Maybe adoption isn't right for your family, but there is another way to support children in need.  There is a great need for wonderful foster families.  Foster care can lead to adoption, but that is not always the case.

Let me share with you with the Department of Children and Family Services in the state of Illinois says:

Foster care is the temporary placement by the Department of children outside their homes due to abuse, neglect or dependency. Placing a child in substitute care - a foster family home, group home or institution - is not intended as a permanent living arrangement but to protect the child with the ultimate goal of returning the child home.
Substitute care placements are selected to provide secure, nurturing and homelike settings for children. When it is not possible to return a child home safely, the Department seeks a new goal of adoption. 

Substitute Care Services include Foster Family Care, Relative Care, Group Home or Institutional Care, Independent Living, Protective Day Care, Homemakers, Counseling, Psychological Assessments of Children, Health Care, Crisis Intervention, Aid for Pregnant or Parenting Teens, and Preparation of Youth for Independent Living. Services for special populations include Unaccompanied Minor (refugee) Assistance and Wraparound Services for children returning from institutional placements to their communities. 

DCFS has taken steps to reduce the number of children who require substitute care. Through new early intervention services, called Front End Redesign, families are given help immediately after their needs become apparent, even before a child abuse or neglect investigation is completed. These services may help prevent the need for a child to be placed into substitute care. In accordance with state and federal laws, an increased emphasis has been placed on early permanency that includes a child's return home, adoption, or guardianship. At its height in Fiscal Year 1997, 51,331 Illinois children were living in substitute care. Because of an increased emphasis on early intervention and permanency services such as adoption, that number has declined to 16,160 children in June 2007 -- a 67 percent decline compared to June 1998. 

Many kinds of children need foster homes. Teenagers, teenage moms and their babies, children with special medical or behavioral needs, and sibling groups are just some of the children most in need of foster and adoptive parents. 

Becoming a Foster Parent or Adoptive Parent
Anyone who desires to become a foster or adoptive parent can call 800-572-2390. Your interest will result in a local DCFS or private child welfare agency representative contacting you about foster care. A representative will then make an appointment to come to your home to help you decide if foster care or adoption is a good plan for your family. The representative will also give you an application and a medical form to complete for each member of your family. The law requires that a criminal background check be run on all applicants, therefore you will be fingerprinted. In addition, references you provide will be contacted. While these checks are being run, you will attend training classes to help prepare you for your future role as a foster or adoptive parent. The licensing and training process takes from two to six months.

Taken from:

Another need is temporary respite care.  I first learned about this kind of care when working in the public school system.  A few of my students were being cared for by foster families.  Because these children had significant medical and/or developmental needs, their care was round-the-clock and very intensive.  Most of the foster families could not call a high schooler to come babysit or ask a friend to watch their children while they ran errands, take children to medical appointments or enjoy a well-needed break.  For that reason, respite care was necessary. explains respite care like this:
Respite care is the short-term care of a very dependent or difficult child which enables the parents - birth, foster or adoptive - to take a break.   Some children's needs require round-the-clock intensive care and parents can soon become burned out. Respite fostering is often very rewarding, and a close relationship can grow up between families over the years.

It has been known for respite carers to eventually be asked by a family to adopt their child. Some respite carers will have had special training to care for the needs of very handicapped or challenging children. This kind of foster care can be very suitable for people who need to know that a placement will be very short (but repeated at more or less regular intervals), because respite care will almost never be longer than a couple of weeks, and is very often measured in hours or days. Respite care is often a critical component of family preservation efforts.

Taken from:

A great (and short) article about preparing for respite foster care can be found here: has a wonderful list of articles, books, and websites.  Follow this link,, to read more.

Don't miss a thing! Follow the entire 30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption series

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