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Steps to becoming a foster parent
Step 1: Go To Orientation. Foster parents need to receive a foster care license before taking children into their home. Learn more about the process to become licensed and get your questions answered by attending a Resource Family Orientation. See the orientation schedule to find out when the next orientation is happening in your community. Orientations are sponsored by the State of Alaska Office of Children’s Services.
If your community does not have an onsite orientation, check out the following options:
- Telephonic Orientation (held once monthly). Find the dates at the bottom of the orientation schedule or call ACRF at 1-800-478-7307 for information.
- Web based orientation
Step 2: Fill Out the Application and Follow Instructions to Get Fingerprinted. At orientation, you will receive an application packet. The application asks for basic information about yourself and the people in your household. The application also asks for five personal references and permission to complete a background check on all persons over 16 years of age in your household. To complete the background check, OCS asks you (and everyone over 16 years of age in the home) to undergo fingerprinting and will pay for that to be done. Each office does it a bit differently so follow the information you receive at orientation. Return your completed application to you local Office of Children's Services.
If you attend the orientation by web or telephone because you do not have a regular orientation in your community, contact your nearest Office of Children's Services to request a Resource Family Application or go to the State of Alaska web site to download the forms. After completing, return these to the nearest Office of Children’s Services and ask the office for information on fingerprinting.
Step 3: Complete Background Checks. Once you return the application, you will be assigned a licensing worker who will process the paperwork and complete the background checks for everyone in your home over age 16 years. If your family is "cleared" for licensing, (no prohibitive criminal or substantiated child protection records), your licensing worker will make an appointment with you to complete the next step—the home visit.
Step 4: Participate in a home visit. The OCS worker will visit your home to see that your home has a place for the child to sleep and keep his clothes. Workers will also look for basic safety standards in your home, such as smoke detectors in bedrooms, a fire extinguisher, a carbon monoxide detector on every level, and no dangerous conditions in your home.
Step 5: Attend Core Training for Resource Families. All foster and adoptive families should attend this basic training. Core Training covers information about the child protection system, separation, grief and loss, visitation and birth families, positive parenting, and transitions back to birth parents. Core Training meets the training requirement for the first licensing year. For information about Core Training in your area, contact the Alaska Center for Resource Families. ACRF also has a self-study Core workbook and a web-based version for resource families who do not have access to on-site training.
Step 6: Receive Your Foster Care License. After completing all the above steps above, your licensing worker will submit all the paperwork and you will receive a Community Care License. That means you are licensed by the state to care for a specific number of children in a specific age range. You can now take foster children into your home! This license needs to be renewed after a year (and every two years after that) and you will continue to participate in ongoing training every year as part of your licensing requirement.
Step 7: Placement of Children. Once licensed, your foster family will be contacted by OCS social workers for placement of children. When an OCS worker calls you to place a child into your home, make sure to ask lots of questions about what the children will need and why they are coming into care. (You will learn more about this in Core Training for Resource Families.) You will need to decide whether you will be able to provide good care for the children. Every child or sibling group will be assigned a Protective Services Specialist (PSS) that you will work with.
The PSS should talk to you about the foster care placement plan so you understand what your obligations are. Obligations may include making the child available for contact with birth parents, or attending medical or therapeutic appointments. Every case is different and every child is different. The foster care placement plan outlines the specifics for your particular child.
At the end of each month, foster parents will receive a reimbursement for care. This rate is established by the state legislature, and is based on how many nights a child is in your home, the age of the child and your geographic location. The PSS begins the payment process by starting a file in the statewide data information system. Talk to your social worker about the payment process when a child is placed in your home.