Like adoption, there are many steps to go through in order to be a part of foster care in Ohio. You need to find an agency or a social worker, and like any important process, do your research. Though it is possible that you can foster to adopt, note that the goal of most foster placements is reunification with families. However, this isn’t always possible, so it’s important to keep an open mind to consider moving forward with adoption. Many individuals go into this with the intention to foster-to-adopt, which can also be difficult when a child is reunited with his or her family. Additionally, individuals often think of small children when it comes to foster care or adoption, but in many cases, older children and teenagers are those seeking a placement. Read more about adoption in Ohio.
The need for foster care varies from county to county, so do some research in your own county as well. Remember to have an open mind as situations vary from child to child and though a friend or colleague may be a part of foster care in Ohio, their situation could vary drastically from your own. Each foster placement is unique and will require various forms of education to help you better support the child you’ve been placed with.
The future of foster care is worrisome to many. With fewer individuals signing up to foster and the number of children entering the system growing, there is a real need for individuals to open their homes to children in need. If you’re considering foster care in Ohio, this article will help you get started!
Where to Start
Kerry, an Ohio resident, and a mom through adoption as well as a foster parents notes that before she began the process, she attended a workshop called Adoption 101 at Adoption Network Cleveland. “They discussed the various types of adoption: private agency, international, foster-to-adopt. They also brought in a panel of adoptive parents who told their stories. After we really made the decision to move forward with fostering, we talked to friends who were already licensed foster parents and asked them about their process. They directed us to our country’s Job and Family Services office,” she says. Workshops like this are very informative, and if you can find one in your area, you can ask questions, learn from others who have been in your position, and often get connected with the individuals that can help you get started in the process.
There are many organizations that offer this first step. It’s worth researching your county to see what is best for you. Each county in Ohio has its own public children services agency that might be a good place to start. Remember that private agencies work differently than the public, and this could impact your training time, costs, etc. Learn more about agencies in Ohio here.
If you still need more information on where to get started, check out the Ohio Adoption Guide.
The requirements to be a part of foster care in Ohio aren’t that dissimilar to adoption. You must be 21 years old to foster, complete a criminal background check and release medical statements of all people living in the home. You must also pass a home study. One of the main differences between foster care in Ohio and adoption is the training that is required. There is training that must be completed before placement and continuing education as well.
According to Ohio.gov, to be a part of foster care in Ohio, you must complete preplacement training and an application and home study. Training can be extensive, and in some instances (again varying on your county), you will have to wait before you can complete certain sessions. Remember that not everything you may need to know will be covered in training, so do your own research. Speak to other foster families, read as much as you can about children in foster care, andcheck out these 10 things that you should have learned in training!
“There are 36 hours of preservice training required before you can get your home study approved. We went into fostering mostly with the intention to adopt, but through the training classes, we understood that there is a great need for fostering, and by the end of our training classes, we were open to all of the options,” explains Kerry.
Like Kerry, you may learn about the need to have temporary placements as well. Sometimes children need a short-term placement too, so talk with your family, evaluate what you think you are best able to accommodate, and above all, open your mind to possibilities that you may not have previously considered.
Training continues after placement with foster care in Ohio with 40-60 hours of ongoing training as well as home visits and meetings regarding the child in custody. Learn more about what you might need to know prior to adopting or fostering.
The training you need for continuing education likely will vary based on the needs of the child that has been placed in your care. Remember, you might be placed with a child who has experienced trauma, has to learn the nuances of your foster child’s culture, or be trained in various areas should the child placed with you have special needs. If you’re fostering a child of a race different than your own, read this.
There are various trainings for children with special needs and disabilities that you may even have to take prior to bringing a child into your home. Be sure to ask the caseworker all of the questions you may have to ensure that you get the best resources that you can to accommodate a foster child that may have special needs you aren’t familiar with.
In many counties in Ohio, there is no cost for the home study or training, but there can be costs if you deal with a private agency, so make sure to do your homework. Remember, if you’re fostering to adopt, there will be fees associated with finalizing an adoption in court. You will need to check with your agency or caseworker to get those costs. If you’re thinking you’re going to MAKE money through foster care in Ohio, that’s not going to happen. Though you will receive a monetary stipend to help cover the costs of food, clothing, and childcare, you need to be realistic that this might not meet the needs of your child, and you’ll have to pay some money out of pocket. Read this insightful article that explains more!
Support for Families
One of the most common questions asked about foster care in Ohio? What support will be offered. Kerry explains that the formal support is her foster care caseworker who they meet with monthly. “We network with other foster parents in the county. Sometimes, we attend continuing training sessions together, or we end up in interesting parenting relationships where a sibling group is separated, and those of us with the siblings connect regularly. There are also online groups I have found that are helpful to chat or post a concern and see if others have any suggestions. Sometimes, these groups are not helpful because each state (and in Ohio, even counties) function differently based on different laws or different interpretations of the law, but it is helpful to see that many foster parents are dealing with similar issues. I have also found Adoption Network Cleveland has online Facebook groups as well as in-person meetings for foster and adoptive families,” she says.
Another foster parent in Ohio (Audrey) explains that every child is different, and each foster situation is different, so you may need various avenues to find support. “Challenges I’ve experienced include a lack of information from the caseworker and/or inconsistent information from the country, struggles to find approved childcare, logistics of getting kids to meetings, appointments and visits, and finding support for kids be it medical care, therapy, or other specialized care kids might need due to their pasts. Those are some bigger issues that can’t just be helped with donations, and I imagine communities with higher numbers of children in foster care have different challenges. All counties are in need of more foster homes, which is a big commitment, but becoming a foster parent and advocating for the children in your care is the best way to help.”
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