Foster parenting is the act of providing a safe, loving and healthy living situation for a child or children who can no longer reside with their biological parents for a variety of reasons. In many cases, foster care is a temporary placement for children, providing them much needed care, while the situation with their parents is sorted out. Other times, foster care can be long-term and even lead to adoption. If you would like to help a child or children in a significant way, becoming a foster parent is a profound way to alter a child’s life for the better.
A Snapshot of Arizona’s Foster Care System
According to reputable sources, there are some 19,000 kids currently in the state’s foster care system. Of those 19,000, only 10,000 beds are available in foster homes throughout Arizona. Some 1,500 of this number are living in shelters or group homes with 30 children spending the night at DCS offices on a regular basis. This means there is no better time than the present for you to consider becoming a foster parent.
How to Become a Foster Parent in AZ: Your Most Pertinent Questions Answered
Do Families Have to Commit Financially to Foster?
Yes and no. No, there is no cost per say to fostering. In fact, you will get a monthly subsidy from the state to offset your foster child’s supplies, clothing and room and board. However, you might have to add on to your home in order to make room for a foster child, or cover their needs up front and get reimbursed, which is where some financial investment could come into play. You also have to be financially secure to be qualified as a foster parent.
What do You Have to Provide a Foster Child?
A foster child needs very little above and beyond your love. Simply provide them a bed and some space for their belongings and they are set. Of course, in some cases, foster children show up with very little clothing and as foster parents, you will need to provide them what they need. You will get reimbursed, though, in many cases.
Do You Have to be Married to Foster or Adopt?
No. In fact, some kids do better in single-parent homes. As long as a person can meet the requirements for fostering, they are eligible to become a foster parent. If a couple is married; however, they both have to meet the requirements.
What Are The Requirements For Fostering in Arizona?
You will be fingerprinted first off as part of a Level I Fingerprint Clearance. You will also have to pass a local and FBI background check then enter into extensive training designed to prepare you for the challenges and problems you might face as you care for foster children. This includes 11 online courses and 15 hours of in-class instruction. After this, a DCS licensing agency, which differs based on your county, will conduct a home study. [For more information on foster care licensing, call 1-877-KIDS-NEEDU or 1-877-543-7633] This will determine if your home is adequate to provide a living space for a foster child. They will also ask you extremely personal questions about your current relationships in order to determine if your home is emotionally stable. In addition, you have to pass a Life Safety Inspection (LSI) before you are issued a foster license. This ensures your home is a safe environment for your foster child. The Arizona Administrative Code determines the requirements..
How Long Does The Process Take?
Once your foster license is granted and issued, your foster placement could occur within a few days time. The licensing process as a whole typically takes from four to six months.
Can Anyone Become a Foster Parent?
No. Not everyone is approved for foster parenting. You must be able to maintain your living expense, be at least 21 years-of-age and be medically qualified to foster parent. This doesn’t mean any medical condition will disqualify you, but your doctor might have to complete a form that communicates your ability to foster if you have medical conditions. In addition, you have to be considered “lawfully present,” which means that you are either a national or an alien authorized by a court or federal entity or a United States citizen. Otherwise, you are not qualified to foster parent. The information listed above tells you everything you need to know about how to become a foster parent in AZ. However, if you still find yourself with unanswered questions, you can reach out to us at RISE for clarification. At RISE, our goal is to make the licensing process as simple as possible, and to provide you with the tools you need to be successful foster parent. Contact us today to learn more about foster care and the important role it plays in providing much needed care for Arizona children.