There are over 2,100 kids and teens in foster care in Colorado. There is also a shortage of foster parents.
Some children in foster care have physical, behavioral, or emotional needs that need to be addressed with care and patience. Others may be part of sibling groups that need to be kept together.
Fostering children can be one of the most rewarding and meaningful things you can do with your life. It can also be the most challenging.
For those interested in foster care, Colorado is an ideal place to provide a home for a child. With its breathtaking scenery and world-class outdoor activities, it is a great place to help restore the physical and emotional health of children who have been abused or neglected.
How can you start your journey? Let’s take a look.
Becoming a Foster Parent in Colorado
The first step toward becoming a foster parent is to contact your local county’s Department of Human Services. Each organization’s website can provide you with the dates, times, and locations of informational meetings. Here, you can learn more about applying to be a foster parent, training, and placement. You can make an informed decision about whether or not foster care is right for you.
Each placement agency may require different training. They will all, however, require you to complete a core training and certifications in CPR and first aid. Each year, you will need to complete additional training in order to maintain your certification.
Once you have become certified, you will be matched with a child and given information about them before bringing them into our home. These children will range from 2 to 18 years old.
Children in foster care are there for a number of reasons, the most common being that their parents are getting educational and counseling they need. Many are over the age of 5, part of a sibling group that needs to be adopted together, or members of racial or ethnic minority groups. Some have other physical, mental, and emotional challenges that need to be managed or overcome.
The orientation will give you an idea about the types of challenges you will be dealing with as a foster parent. You will learn about the types of children available to foster, as well as the visiting time that is required with the birth parent.
Once you have decided that foster care Colorado is for you, you will be asked to fill out an application. The next step is to attend foster parent training classes, where you will practice parenting techniques that are effective with abused or neglected children. These classes may be sponsored by county departments, child placement agencies, or the state of Colorado. Pre-service foster care training will usually take between four and 10 sessions to complete. It is a great opportunity to network with other families who will be in the same situation as you, and they can become great resources.
Your foster family assessment will give your social worker a good idea of the kind of parent you will be. It gives you a chance to discuss your childhood experiences and disciplinary philosophy.
During a home study, you will need to be patient as your agency requests a lot of information about you. You will likely have to provide documentation about your family background, such as birth and marriage certificates. You will also need to verify your finances and employment.
You will need to undergo some background checks, as well as supply non-relative references. Altogether, your home study process will take around three to six months. Keep in mind that your agency is a resource, working with you and not against you. Maintain positive, open communication and you may be surprised at how profitable the experience is.
You will also be able to think and talk about the type of child you feel you will be best able to parent. For example, do you think you would be prepared to foster a sibling group? Or would you be best suited to a school-aged child? Would you like to wait for a child under 5 years old to become available?
The assessment process will give you a chance to define the type of parent that you will be. It will likely involve some visits to your home. Remember that this is nothing to worry about. Your social worker is not looking for a palace. They just want to make sure that you have a clean, comfortable place to raise a child.
Who Is Eligible To Become a Foster Parent?
Foster care Colorado does not discriminate when it comes to foster parents. Your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and marital status will not affect your ability to become approved.
You will need to be 21 years old to become a parent for kids in foster care. Colorado requires that you be flexible, committed, caring, and stable. You should be able to provide a structured home where patience and humor soften your approach to discipline.
You will need to be at least 21 years old, own or rent a home, and have adequate financial resources to meet your own needs. It is important that you feel prepared to provide for your child’s physical, mental, and emotional development.
Foster parents are not perfect people. They do not need to be wealthy or highly educated. What they do need is a firm commitment to make a difference in the life of a child, no matter what challenges they may face.
What Are The Financial Resources Available to Parents of Children in Foster Care Colorado?
Foster parents in Colorado receive a tax-free stipend of $450-$800 per month. This is intended to pay for the basic needs of the child, such as food, clothing, and childcare. Your stipend may increase if your child has special needs that require extra services, such as counseling or tutoring. In many cases, these may continue to be provided for even if you adopt your child.
In addition, children in foster care are eligible for free health care in the form of Medicaid until the age of 18. Students in Colorado also receive a voucher of $5,000 per month for school-related expenses when they are college-aged.
Can I Adopt My Child From Foster Care?
Some of the children in foster care in Colorado are already available for adoption. You can visit Colorado’s heart gallery to take a look.
Many of the children available for adoption are between the ages of 3 and 8 years old. They may be part of sibling groups that cannot be separated. They may be members of racial or ethnic minority groups that exit the system at a slower rate. Or they may have physical, mental, or emotional challenges that require special services. There are currently 300 children in foster care who are already available for adoption in Colorado.
If you would like to adopt a child under 3 years old from foster care, you may need to foster the child first. Your social worker may be able to identify children who are more likely to become available for adoption in the future. They will not, however, be able to guarantee that birth parent rights will be terminated.
If you are able to adopt from foster care, the cost is minimal compared to other domestic private adoptions and international adoptions. In fact, it is usually somewhere between $1,800 and $3,500 per child. This includes a home study fee, as well as legal expenses.
There is a national adoption tax credit of $14,080 per child that will more than cover any fees associated with your finalization, as well as any other adoption-related expenses. While this is not a windfall, it is money that you will not have to pay in taxes after your adoption is complete. You have up to five years to claim it. In addition, some employers offer remuneration for adoption. You can also look into applying for adoption grants.
If you wish to adopt a child who is under 5 years old, you will likely need to go through an agency, such as Maple Star Colorado. Your home study is valid for one year, and you will be able to inquire about any foster children throughout the United States during that time. If that child’s social worker thinks that you will be a good match, you can receive more information about them. At any time that you are learning about your child, you will be able to decide that you are not the right family for them.
If you have gotten a lot of information and have decided to move forward with the adoption, you will begin pre-placement visits. These are important times to get to know your child. Be sure to respect their space and distance, while beginning to form a warm bond. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for adoption and medical subsidies after you adopt.
Preparing Your Home For Foster Care Colorado
Your foster child will require their own room in your home, whether you buy or rent. If you are fostering more than one child, each child must have their own bed.
For older children, it is important to have activities ready for them so they feel welcome. Simple coloring books, balls, and bikes will make them excited to be a part of your home. You may want to have a few outfits available in different sizes before your child comes to live with you. Once you figure out their size, get some affordable outfits at outlets or sales, or ask friends or relatives for some gently used hand-me-downs. If yours is the first stable home your child has had, they will probably grow a lot during their first few months. You won’t want to spend too much on clothes.
Some children have been malnourished in their previous environments, and you may notice some “hoarding,” or bringing food up to their rooms at night. Don’t scold them for this. Instead, keep a basket of wrapped, healthy snacks in their room, such as dried fruits or granola bars. Eventually, your child will realize that there will always be enough food in their home.
If you are adopting a child under 2, you will likely need to purchase a crib, Pack ’N Play, and car seat. Remember that your child may also need a baby seat and swing. Find out about the kind of food your child is eating, such as formula or baby food, as well as any allergies.
If your child is a mobile infant or toddler, you will need to “babyproof” your home. You should have a first-aid kit in an easily accessible place and a list of emergency numbers clearly visible. Put non-slip pads under all rugs, and cover all furniture corners or edges with bumpers or safety padding. Latch any closed doors or cupboards within your baby’s reach. Be sure to lock any cupboards where toxic chemicals are stored. Put safety plugs over all of the open outlets. Unplug and store any appliances that you don’t use, and move any knives to locked cupboards.
Why Foster Care Colorado?
Foster care is heaven’s work. If you love children and are committed to providing a loving and supportive home to a child without one, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.