- What is Foster Care?
Foster care is the temporary placement of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Resource parents provide these children a safe and nurturing environment that meets developmental needs and address developmental delays.
- Who can be a Resource parent?
Resource parents can be married couples or individuals over 21 years of age. We do not discriminate; we allow individuals or couples to be Resource parent without respect for color, race, religion or creed.
- What are the requirements?
Prospective resource families must meet the following:
- Be over age 21
- Attend an information meeting
- Complete 27 hours of pre-service training
- Complete the home study approval process
- Complete a registration and authorization for clearance forms
- Be able to meet your family’s financial obligations
- Be in good physical and mental health
- Agree to have a background check, including criminal background
- Agree not to smoke around the foster child, including both in your home and in the car
- Provide three references
- Obtain your first aid and CPR certifications
- Have patience, flexibility and a commitment to children
- Have room for a child
You may not qualify for resource parenting if:
- You are experiencing financial difficulties and do not have stable and sufficient income
- Anyone in the household has an indicated child protective service finding
- Anyone in the household was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) within the last five years
- Anyone in the household was convicted of a felony or drug related offense
- You owe child support
- You live in a one bedroom apartment or home
- What types of children will be placed in my home?
The children in the custody of Charles County Department of Social Services range in age from 0-21 years old. Some of these children have emotional, behavioral, developmental or medical needs. Some children have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment, which resulted in their removal from their families. These children come from diverse races, cultures and have varying needs. The Department makes every effort to place sibling groups in the same home.
- Where is the biggest need?
Our current needs are for resource parents to work with and accept teenagers and siblings groups. However, foster parents are always needed for all types of children.
- How long does it take to become a foster parent?
Trainings are offered four times for the year in Southern Maryland; however the department can work with other counties who offer similar training to get prospective resource parents trained, if the current training schedule is not conducive. After the training is completed prospective resource parents are eligible to begin the home study process. The time your home study will take is determined by your schedule and the submission of the required documents.
- What is a home study?
A home study is a process whereby you describe your personal history, parenting skills and expectations of being a resource parent. Prospective resource parents and their household members are interviewed to determine a goodness of fit between the needs of the department and how best resource parents can meet the needs of the children in care. Prospective foster parents are encouraged to be flexible and work with the department to meet the needs of the children in need.
- What type of training will I be required to obtain?
Resource parents receive 27 hours of training through the Parent's Resource for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) program. PRIDE provides a realistic view and highlight expectations of resource parents.
- Does my spouse have to attend training?
Yes, your spouse is required to attend since you both will be involved in parenting the child in your home. It is also important so both you and your spouse receive the same information to make an informed decision.
- How long will a child stay in my home?
On average, children in foster care length of stay varies and it is contingent upon a number of factors, such as the court proceedings regarding the removal of the child, the department’s handling of the child’s removal and the willingness of extended families to serve as kinship providers for the children. All of these factors are taken into consideration to determine the length of stay.
- What if my spouse committed a felony twenty years ago?
The state of Maryland has a very strict policy on criminal acts. Even as a local department with some latitude and discretion, the department is unable to override that policy. As a result the department has to uphold the strict policy of not approving individuals who have committed a felony and therefore your spouse will not be able to continue the process.
- Am I financially responsible for my foster child?
Resource parents are given a monthly stipend to cover the child’s basic expenses. However, that reimbursement is retroactive. Therefore prospective foster parents are required to be financially stable.
- Does the state provide Health insurance for children in foster care?
As for health insurance, all children have coverage for medical expenses through Medicaid.
- I’m interested in adoption. Should I consider foster care?
Foster care endeavors to keep families together through the process of reunification, but reunification for some is not an option. In these cases, resource parents may be considered for a resource for adoption. Adopting through foster care allows families the opportunity to get to know the child prior to finalizing the adoption. It also allows the department the ability to determine a goodness of fit between what the resource parent is able to provide and what the needs of the child(ren) are in custody.
- Are there different types of foster parenting arrangements?
“Specialized” or “Treatment” foster parents work with children with more challenging emotional, behavioral, and medical problems. These foster parents receive a special payment (a “difficulty of care stipend”) for their unique work.
“Regular” or “Traditional” foster parents protect and nurture most of the children in care. These children do not need emergency or specialized care. Regular foster parents also receive training and are reimbursed for the cost of fostering through a monthly stipend. Most of our foster parents are “regular/traditional” or “kinship” foster parents.
“Kinship” foster parents take care of children that are related to them through family. These parents have been approached by the agency’s child protection unit and have been asked to be a resource to this child. They also receive training and a reimbursement check every month. However, not just anyone can foster kin. The child’s relative must be approached by the agency and the child must have come through an abuse or neglect investigation in order to be placed into the kinship foster care program.
- How do I become a foster parent?
Individuals interested in becoming resource parents can call 301-392-6727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about foster care.