Becoming a Foster Parent

Foster parents play an essential role in providing temporary, safe and nurturing homes to children when their parents are unable to care for them. Becoming a foster parent can provide a wonderful change to your life and to the lives of the children you care for. Once a child or sibling group is placed in your home, a new journey begins that can last anywhere from overnight to several months. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent and helping a child during a family crisis, please read the steps (below) you will need to complete before being approved.

All foster parents are required to complete this training and become licensed. Foster parents receive compensation that is provided to cover room and board costs of foster children. Foster children are enrolled in Medicaid.

Here are the steps involved in becoming a foster parent:

Meetings

JCCA has regular meetings to brief prospective foster parents about the responsibilities of a licensed foster care parent. These meetings provide a discussion of the role of the foster parent and an overview of the process of becoming one. Participants learn about the special needs of foster children and the realities of foster care. Attendees receive an information packet, including an application. They can make an appointment with a recruiter for a home visit at that time, or they may call JCCA later if they need more time to make a decision. Meetings are held at both our Bronx and Brooklyn locations.

The Home Visit

Foster homes and parents must be in compliance with State and City rules concerning physical condition, safety, resources, character, motivation and willingness to cooperate with the agency in providing services needed. They must also agree to carry out the permanency plan. A recruiter from JCCA will visit the home for approximately 20 minutes to determine if it meets New York State regulations. Applicants are told immediately if their homes are eligible. In addition, the recruiter takes the completed application, household budget and child abuse clearance forms.In another meeting, the applicants meet a senior social worker to determine if the family understands the realities of foster care and is capable of providing resources and support to a foster child.

MAPP Training

Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) is an in-depth, 30-hour training program for potential foster families to learn more about foster care, foster children and the agency. The MAPP program examines 12 criteria necessary for successful foster/adoptive parenting. Through role-playing, personal profiles and other techniques, the applicant and JCCA make mutual decisions about foster parenting. The training includes several assessment points at which applicants or the agency may determine that the family should not continue with the process.

Once the potential foster parents make the decision to enter MAPP training, they must finish the final requirements to apply for a foster care license. Adults are fingerprinted and must agree to a complete criminal background check to ensure that they are not on the State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

Certification and Beyond

Once MAPP training is completed, all documents have been submitted, and the state has cleared the applicants, foster parents are certified and their home is open for the placement of foster children. The home and parents have to be recertified every year on the anniversary of the date they were first cleared. JCCA’s staff supports all its foster parents with ongoing training, regular conversations with case managers and other staff support. There is an Annual Foster Parent Appreciation Breakfast held to honor and celebrate our families for their commitment to help our city’s children.

Adoption Through Foster Care

Foster parents provide safe temporary homes for many of New York’s children who are unable to live with their own parents. If parents are unable to restore custody of the children, JCCA will work to seek permanent, nurturing adoptive homes for the children, usually with their foster parents. Families do not pay to adopt through foster care and most of the adoptions are subsidized.

JCCA also runs Adoption Circle support groups. These meet regularly to talk about the day-to-day realities of family relationships and positive parenting skills. They are a resource for parents to learn about child development, parenting, constructive use of free time, navigating social services and utilizing community resources. JCCA also brings in experts to discuss topics that include positive discipline, developmental changes, teen behavior and school advocacy.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent and would like further information, please contact Rebecca Price, LCSW, Program Director of Family Resource Center, at pricer@jccany.org.