Typically, both private and public agencies host informational meetings for prospective foster parents. It’s a great idea to attend these when thinking about what agency is the best fit for your foster care journey. Creating a Family also recommends that prospective foster parents schedule an appointment to talk more personally with the county agency and/or the private agency they are considering. In addition to asking the following questions, it’s an opportunity meet the personnel and get a feel for what dynamic is a good fit for your family.
Interview Questions for Foster Care Agencies
- How long have you been placing children from foster care? (This would be for a private foster agency.)
- How many children have you placed in foster homes in the last year? The year before?
- What is the average age of child that you have placed?
- Are you looking for foster homes for children with more involved special needs?
- How long does it usually take from application to first foster placement?
- What is your agency policy for how soon phone calls are returned and emails are replied to?
- Are you open to us calling and emailing you with questions?
- What are the steps involved in your home-study/home inspection process for which we should prepare? How long does it usually take to complete that process, assuming we are prompt with providing documentation required?
- How often are foster parent training classes scheduled?
- Do we have options on when to take the foster parent training classes? (evenings, weekends, on-line, etc.)?
- What type of continuing education do you require, if any?
- What is a typical caseload for case managers/social workers with this agency?
- How long have your case workers/social workers been working in foster care?
- Is there assistance offered with the licensing process?
- What arrangements are available for respite care? For transporting with visitations, therapies, other appointments?
- Do you provide support opportunities through continuing education or in-person support groups? Is childcare provided during these times?
- Do you provide special opportunities for foster children such as summer camp, outings/activities, meet-ups? Do you provide financial assistance for extracurricular activities such as swim lessons, sports, music lessons?
Items to Request
Here’s a quick list of items to request to take with you that will help answer questions and give you resources to which you can refer while making your decision:
- An itemized list of all the home-study requirements for which we can prepare.
- For private foster agencies, the latest audited financial statements and the internal financial report for last year. For nonprofit agencies, financial information is publicly available at guidestar.com.
- Contracts, liability waivers, confidentiality agreements, or other paperwork.
- References of families that closely resemble ours and who were open to similar risk factors.
Choosing the Right Fit
Once you’ve asked all your questions and compiled all your materials from your meetings, thoughtfully take the information into consideration. Take some time to evaluate your needs and wants as a foster family, and then choose the agency that most closely matches those. Bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a “perfect fit” but choosing an agency that fits with your family makes for a more satisfying foster parenting experience.Image credit: pxhere