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Birth, marriage & life events

Become a foster parent

Every child deserves to be loved, and to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to remain in their own homes. Most children enter foster care as a result of abuse or neglect.

Roughly 4,300 children and youth are in foster care at any given time in this city. People who care for children in foster care are called resource parents because they help parent a child, and act as a resource and mentor to that child’s family. Resource parents provide children with love and support while they are separated from their families.

Overview

The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their families. When this is not possible, as determined by Family Court, many resource parents choose to adopt the children that are in their care.

Resource parents as part of the team

Resource parents play a central role in helping children in foster care reunify with their family of origin.

Resource parents are key members of the child’s permanency planning team. This team can consist of the child’s social worker, birth family, and other caring adults. As the person who lives with the youth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, resource parents bring important perspectives and information to the child’s care team.

Successful resource parents:

  • Work with all members of the team.
  • Share information.
  • Give and receive support.
  • Ensure that the child feels safe and is free from threats of harm or danger.

Resource parents can help in the reunification process in many ways. They should:

  • Be a role model and mentor for the parents of origin.
  • Support the child’s relationship with their parents.
  • Share information with the parents, such as health care and educational progress.
  • Provide emotional support for the child as they prepare to return home.
  • Be available to both the child and their parents after they return home.
  • Include parents and other family members in important holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions (such as school plays).

Financial assistance

Resource parents receive a stipend to help offset the cost of caring for a child. The amount may change depending on the level of care the child needs. All children receive medical coverage through Medicaid.

Who

Foster parents can be single, married, divorced, any gender or sexual orientation. Foster care agencies may not discriminate (PDF) in the recruitment or certification of resource parents.

Requirements

To care for children in foster care, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Pass child abuse, criminal history, and FBI clearances.
  • Be physically able to care for a child.
  • Have space in your home for an additional child.

How

1
Choose a foster care agency.

DHS works with many state-licensed agencies to provide foster care. Browse the list of foster agencies to find the best fit for you. You want to feel confident and comfortable with the agency you choose. This agency will be a big support to you during your resource parent journey.

Once you’ve found one that you like, call them to find out how to begin the certification process. Each agency has slightly different requirements, specialties, and training programs.

2
Begin the certification process.

The certification process will take approximately 3-6 months to complete.

As part of the process you will have to:

  • Fill out an application.
  • Attend an orientation.
  • Complete the agency’s pre-service training.
  • Get a medical examination that proves you are physically able to care for children and are free from communicable diseases.
  • Pass child abuse, criminal history, and FBI clearances.
  • Have a resource parent recruiter come to your home to help determine if it is safe for a child.

Relatives, family friends, trusted teachers, coaches, or others who have a close connection with the child(ren) may become kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers are allowed to have children placed more quickly into their homes. Kinship care helps children remain connected to their relatives and natural supports if they are removed from their home.

Kinship caregivers go through an initial review that includes clearances of their home. Once they have been cleared, the children connected to them can come live with them until they can be reunited with their parents. Kinship caregivers still need to go through the rest of the process of becoming a resource parent, but they can do this while they serve as kinship caregivers.

To get more information about becoming a resource parent, call (215) 683-5709 or email dhs.fosteringphilly@phila.gov.

Forms & instructions


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