Becoming a Foster Parent
You have reached the site of the Foster Care Homefinding Unit of the Department of Human and Health Services in Monroe County. If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent with the Department of Human and Health Services, or looking for more information about the process, read on. We are happy you are here! Nurturing a child and keeping him or her safe is the highest community service you can provide for children!
Need for Foster Parents
With few exceptions, most of the foster children in Monroe County are in the care and custody of the Department of Human and Health Services. On average, Monroe County has approximately 470 children in foster care of all races and ages, from birth to 21. Approximately 250 of these children are in foster homes within Monroe County, with the balance placed in higher levels of care. Many of these children are returned to their own home when the crisis, which had resulted in their placement into foster care, has passed. Others, unable to return home for a variety of reasons, are adopted, often by their foster parent, or child may be placed with a relative through custody or guardianship. Your help is greatly needed to provide a safe, nurturing home for a child.
Children enter foster care as a result of abuse and/or neglect, or as a voluntary placement. The need for foster and foster/adoptive homes is great. Monroe County Department of Human and Health Services is looking for families who will foster infants, preschoolers, school-age children, adolescents and teens, sibling groups, pregnant and parenting teens, as well as special needs children (e.g. medically frail children). As some foster children become available for adoption, foster parents are often given the opportunity to adopt. Except for personal legal fees, the adoption entails no costs.
Foster parenting is not for everyone, but it might be for you! It takes a special person to open his or her home to a child. Most foster parents will tell you that this experience will change your life for the better! You can make a difference in a child’s life, no matter how long or how short the stay, by helping the foster child navigate this transitional period in his or her life. For these children, the journey is often lonely and difficult.
The best foster parents are genuinely interested in providing a child with guidance, love, understanding, and a safe, nurturing home. They are structured, set reasonable limits, and have realistic expectations. They are flexible and patient, and value children as individuals. They communicate effectively, and help children develop positive self-esteem. They help children learn appropriate behaviors using positive reinforcement and discipline, and not physical punishment. But above all, they integrate the children into their families, even if only for a short time.
Foster parents, like the children they help, come from all walks of life. They live in the city, the suburbs, and the countryside. They have children of their own, children who are now adults, or no children. They are male or female, married or single. They are at least 21 years of age. They are employed or retired, but have a stable income of their own. They are free of communicable illness, and have been deemed healthy by their doctor to care for foster children, physically and emotionally. Each prospective foster parent must be fingerprinted for a criminal record check as required by New York State. Each adult in your household will receive a State Central Registry check with New York State to assure no one has been found guilty of child abuse or neglect. Space and safety requirements to accommodate a foster child in your home will be discussed with a Homefinding caseworker.
Supports for Foster Parents
As a foster parent for Monroe County Department of Human and Health Services, you will receive a daily board rate (based on the age and needs of the child), a semi-annual clothing allowance, and Medicaid coverage for each child. Medicaid will cover all the child’s medical care, as well as counseling services, as necessary. In addition, you will receive casework support from the child’s foster care caseworker, and also support from a Homefinding caseworker.
Interested Monroe County residents will be invited to an Informational meeting, which is held monthly by Homefinding staff. If an individual or couple decides to apply for certification, each applicant will then meet with a Homefinding trainer in the home, and if basic qualifications are met (see above), will receive a 10-week training (30 hours in total, usually held in the evenings or Saturdays) provided by Homefinding. A Home study will then be written by the Homefinding trainer, after which the applicant becomes certified as a Foster/Adoptive Parent, and is ready to accept our special children into the home!
For more information, please go to our website at www.monroefostercare.org or call Homefinding at 585 753-6522 or fax them to 585 753-6649. We look forward to hearing from you!
Foster Care Program Units
The Foster Care program area of the Monroe County Department of Human and Health Services, Children and Family Services, is comprised of the following types of units:
- Foster Care Intake
Serves as gatekeepers for requests for foster care placements from the MCDHS Child and Family Services teams and from the Monroe County community and offers immediacy of response to families in crisis in a professional, empathic, respectful, and culturally sensitive manner. Provides the services necessary to secure an appropriate placement for youth referred by the Monroe County Probation Department for placement in group homes, other institutional settings and specialized foster care programs. For more information, contact 585-753-5765
- Child Protective Management
Provides respectful, strength-based, and culturally competent case management and supportive services to children and their families. Safety, permanency and well-being are the main focus of these teams, who work to support the right of each child to a lasting, safe, and nurturing environment where he or she can develop secure attachments and a sense of belonging. Some of these families have children in foster care, some have children court-placed with relatives, and others have children at home under MCDHS supervision.
- Youth Opportunity Unit
Serves foster care youth in the 16 to 21 year age range who have a goal of independent living. While the basic goal is to provide adolescents with the tools to live independently, the YOU team assists teens who are in foster care with vocational and college decisions, that lead to the teen becoming a productive member of the community. Please call the YOU team at 585 753-6243 for more information.
- Residential Services
Provides case management for foster children in group homes and other institutional settings. Some of these youth may be deemed Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) or may be involved in the Juvenile Justice system. Children are placed with voluntary agencies under contract with MCDHS to provide foster care services. Another group of youth serviced through Residential Services who are not part of the PINS/JJ system are Unaccompanied Refugee Minors. For further information, please call 585 753-6243
Our Adoption Team is comprised of very caring and experienced caseworkers who will assist you in identifying and learning about our children in need of an adoptive home. Our goal is to find a permanent family for each of our children; a family where our children can grow and thrive in a close, loving environment. The team’s wide ranging skills will help you access any services you may need to help you and your child create a warm, loving and long lasting relationship.