How it Works

A foster parent is someone who is willing to provide a home for a child who is in temporary need of a family. It could be for a weekend, several months, or until the child turns 18. We can work with potential foster parents who have a preference, but most of our children don’t know how long they’ll need a place to stay. We are in the greatest need of parents willing to help any child who finds himself or herself without a family, and our foster parents often find this is the most rewarding way to enter the program.

Most people considering becoming a foster parent for the first time have a lot of questions. We’ve answered the most common below, but you can always click the button to ask us more.

What exactly do foster parents do?

Your job is to keep a child in need safe and provide him or her a stable and caring environment. This includes the duties you’d likely expect that go with creating a place where a child can heal.

  • Providing a safe, comfortable environment for the child
  • Ensuring that the child attends school, monitoring progress and offering support
  • Ensuring that the child receives an annual physical exam and two dental visits each year
  • Providing consistent guidance that is age appropriate and does not involve corporal punishment
  • Providing recreational and enrichment activities
What’s the usual timeline?

After your first information session, it usually takes about 8 weeks to complete foster parents certification. After that, it may take a few days to a few months for a child that’s a fit to need your home.

What will the foster child be like?

We place children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, and we serve special kinds of children – ones who have been through a lot and will need some extra love, interaction, and stability to recover from the things they’ve experienced. As you provide the stability, we’ll provide a counselor to help the child.

Can I choose the age or sex of my foster child?

During the certification process, we do ask foster parents to complete a profile of the type of child they would like to help. Youth Villages will try to make an appropriate match between the foster parents and child, taking into account the other children in the family and the space in the home. Obviously, the better the match between the child’s needs and the parents’ skills, the more successful the outcome will be. We will always call with a description of the child’s age, sex and circumstances in advance and make sure you consent to the placement.

Will Youth Villages help me once I get my foster child?

We know how big a job you’ve taken on, and Youth Villages won’t leave you alone. In addition to providing a counselor that supports the child and foster parent(s), we also provide 24-hour phone support. We provide an in-depth series of training classes before you even get your child, and there are regular foster parent support groups. You’ll still be nervous, but you’ll know Youth Villages will be by your side in the process.

What is the certification training class like?

Our training is called TN KEY, which stands for Knowledge Empowers You. This course is free, and training materials and dinner are provided at no cost to participants.

TN KEY classes aren’t just training classes. They are decision classes. TN KEY helps prospective foster parents decide whether providing foster care is a fit for them. As you make that decision, you’ll learn how children grow and develop better in families where they can build lasting relationships. You’ll learn about these special kids who have experienced early trauma and the lifelong impact it has on how they feel about themselves, their ability to trust and their willingness to build relationships. You’ll explore these core issues in a way that prepares you for this new and complex role… a role that is a lot different than being a child’s birth parent. Everything in this training — including the written material, video presentations, in-class assignments, role-plays, class discussions and interactions, as well as the homework — is designed to help you begin to understand these children and develop the skills needed to parent them successfully.

How long will my foster child stay?

The short answer is we don’t know. The child’s parent may be working to resolve problems or be in the process of having parental rights terminated. The child may be waiting for an adoptive home to open. The average stay is 12 to 18 months.

Can I adopt my foster child? Am I expected to?

The goal of Youth Villages is to get foster children back to a healed family. That means the majority of children in foster care are not eligible for adoption. But, if a child’s parents have their parental rights terminated by a judge, the foster parents can apply to adopt. The family who can best meet the needs of the child will be selected to adopt.

Will I have to be in contact with the child’s parent?

Your main partner in the care and decision-making regarding your foster child is your Youth Villages counselor.

He or she will answer all your questions about what is allowed, such as if you can take the child on vacation out of state or move the child to a new school. However, because the goal for the child is reunification with a healed family, you may have a role in helping your foster child stay in contact with his or her parents. Your counselor will work with you to ensure this is handled in a way that works for you.

What reimbursement do foster parents receive?

To help offset the cost of bringing a child into your home and to help with any travel costs, Youth Villages provides foster parents with a monthly reimbursement that is based on the number of children in their care and the special needs of those children. Foster parents must use this reimbursement to provide their foster children with food, clothing, school supplies, incidental expenses and a monthly allowance. Foster parents must also ensure that the child is allowed to participate in school and extracurricular activities such as sports teams or band — and pay any expenses for those activities. State programs provide medical care for the children.

What if I am doubtful that I can do it?

Then you are normal! Most everyone who considers becoming a foster parent is nervous, that’s normal. But you wouldn’t be reading this if there wasn’t something telling you that this might be a rewarding and meaningful way you can make a difference in the life of a child who just needs someone to care. The best thing to do if you have doubts questions is to come to one of our information sessions and meet some real foster parents or speak directly to one of our counselors.

I have some more questions. Who can answer them?

You can call our information line at 1-888-MY-YV-KID (1-888-699-8543) or fill out the contact form. One of our counselors will call you to answer your question and also let you know when the next information session is in your area.