You’ve decided you’re going to do it! You and your spouse are going to become foster parents. You’re excited, geared-up and ready to go. Before you take the plunge, here are a few things to keep in mind:
We do SIX informational meetings a year
The informational meeting is the very first step to becoming a foster parent. It is a requirement by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for you and your spouse to attend. We offer these meetings every other month on a Thursday evening. You can check out our events page to see a list of ALL the informational meetings we will have during 2017. That way you can make a plan to attend.
Other counties do have informational meetings, some more frequently and some less often. You can go to an informational meeting in another county. However, we don’t recommend it. In order to get credit for it, we have to have a signed statement from that counties coordinator saying you attended. Also, if you’re going to foster in White County, it’s more beneficial to you to start the process out by meeting the DCFS representative from White County and The CALL members you will be seeing/hearing from regularly.
If you cannot attend the next scheduled informational meeting, that’s OK, there are six a year so there’s plenty of opportunities to attend one. We do not do individual meetings because DCFS has set certain regulations regarding these meetings and there has to be a case worker present at the meeting.
PRIDE Training is held FOUR times a year
PRIDE Training is the required training all foster families must go through to open. This training takes place over two weekends in one month. Once you attend an informational meeting and turn in a background packet, you will be signed up for PRIDE Training.
DCFS and CALL State guidelines require couples to attend PRIDE Training together. You must also complete PRIDE Training with the same group you started with. For example, if you know you can attend the first weekend of PRIDE, but the second weekend you will be out of town, you will need to schedule PRIDE Training for a different month. You need to go through training in the county that you will be fostering in because the trainers will have vital information about how your county DCFS works. Also, this will be another opportunity to get to know the CALL members you will be working with through your foster care journey.
Tons of paperwork and deadlines
The amount of paperwork that has to be completed in order to become a foster parent is massive. It’s all necessary, but it’s a lot. Background checks have to be completed and turned in before PRIDE training. The red packet, which includes financial info, release forms, physicals, etc…have to be turned in by the end of PRIDE Training. There’s more, but the point is, there is a lot of to-do’s to keep track of and a lot of deadlines that have to be met.
Failing to turn something in or failing to turn it in on time can cause delays or even possibly cause your file to be closed, meaning that you may have to start the process all over again. DCFS and The CALL makes an effort to help you out with this and keep track, but in the end it is up to you to get everything turned in and turned in on time.
Preparing you for foster care
It may seem like a minor thing to not be able to make a particular informational meeting or one weekend of PRIDE Training or to miss a paperwork deadline. However, all of these things during the process set you up for reality of foster care.
There will be court dates, doctors appointments, therapy appointments, meetings, and other things for your foster children that you will not have the ability to change. Like with all children, stuff will happen that will mean re-arranging your schedule to meet their needs.
There will be DCFS requirements and deadlines until the day you stop fostering. These things are non-negotiable to them. We don’t want anyone to think the rules are to harsh or that we’re intentionally being difficult. We just don’t want you to be surprised with how your life looks once you have these precious foster children in your home. For this is only the beginning…