Choosing the Right Foster Care Agency
Choosing the right foster care agency for your family may seem like an easy task, right? Just call an agency up, right. But what will the agency do or what should you know about choosing an agency? Why is choosing an agency important? Are all agencies the same? Are some agencies run by the state or religious groups?
What should you know about choosing a foster care agency? A foster care agency is an agency that is contracted through the state to provide foster and adoptive services to families. As the need for more foster care increases, the need for more agencies will increase, the need for more workers will increase, etc. In my state, the local Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) was responsible for all aspects of child welfare; however, now they have contracted out the ongoing foster cases, adoptive cases, and youth services cases. Basically, the DHHR still does the initial referral but after the child is taken they contact the agency to locate a home.
The process is different in every state. Some agencies specialize in placing difficult children - children who have been in foster care multiple times, or for long periods of time, who may have behaviors that parents find hard to deal with. Some agencies pay different rates. These agencies make money from the state to perform these services and lessen the load at the DHHR itself.
Why is choosing the right foster care agency important?
There is a lot to consider in choosing a foster care agency. Basically, you are going to allow this company to come into your home, meet your family, meet with you, and share your personal information with them. Not to mention, you will visit with their representative monthly after a foster care placement. You should have the same goals as the agency. This agency may or may not help you bring children into your family permanently through adoption. The agency should have a stable, safe, and caring atmosphere.
All foster care and adoption agencies are not the same! One mom was looking for an agency and was told that adoption was not a part of the agency's main goals. It was suggested if adoption was the family's main goal, to go elsewhere. She did. Some agencies are better at communicating than others. Some have a religious undertone. A few agencies might say they want all of their homes full but don't call you for months with a placement. Some agencies may be difficult to contact after hours.
How do you find out about a foster care and/or adoption agency? Word of mouth is best. If you know someone who is already doing foster care, ask them which agency they chose and why. Many agencies are located in each state. In order to find an agency in your state, go to the Child Welfare's website and do a search.
There are a few other agencies that I may mention, mostly on the east coast, because that is where I am familiar with. Do NOT just call an agency and get started. Please research. Here is a small list to see what some companies offer:
https://braleyandthompson.com/ or http://www.stepstoneyouth.com/west-Virginia/
Facebook also has several state foster care support groups that would be a great resource to utilize in order to get others' opinions of their agency's performance. You should do a search for those as well. The opinion of others is great. Obviously, each family is different and has different goals. It is important to research the company for yourself. You should interview the company to see if it is a great fit - yes a GREAT fit. You don't want a fair fit. These are children in your home who have gone through tremendous trauma. They need the best. Believe me, you will want the BEST! A relationship will be formed - either good or bad.
Need Help Choosing the Right Foster Care Agency for Your Family?
In order to assist you with choosing the best foster care agency for you, I created an interview form with 23 essential questions. Besides logistic questions, I have formulated a list of thought-provoking questions to ask when you don't know what to ask. You have never done foster care, so how could you know what to look for in an agency? I'm going to tell you. I'm going to give this to you. It is that important.
After you've downloaded the form (just below), watch the video below where I'll explain to you what to look for in an agency as we go through these questions and potential answers.