SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – More than 68,000 children in California are in the foster care system. Just in Santa Clara County, approximately 1,200 children currently live with foster families, relatives, extended family members or group homes. To recognize the commitment of local foster parents, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors is proclaiming May as National Foster Care Month.
“For hundreds of children in our county, a foster home is, simply put, a haven,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chairperson of the Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “We cannot thank foster parents enough for allowing the most vulnerable children in our community to experience a loving home, stability and structure in their lives.”
The County’s Social Services Agency works diligently to match children with foster homes where they can feel part of the family, based on many factors, from their needs, ages, religious, cultural, ethnic and language backgrounds, to the number of siblings. State law allows up to six children in a foster home, including the foster parents’ biological children. Currently, the County has about 430 licensed foster homes.
“Foster parents are extremely rare as they commit to opening their home and heart to be the best advocate for children in need,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, Vice Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “They are mentors, guardians, teachers and often times build lifelong connections to their foster children.”
The County of Santa Clara Department of Family and Children Services is always looking for foster parents who are prepared to rear children who have had traumatic experiences of neglect, separation and very emotional and personal challenges in their lives. Foster homes are especially needed for sibling groups, pre-teens and teenagers, and children with special medical, emotional, developmental and educational needs. Length of commitment can vary from a matter of days, to a voluntary involvement that could last a lifetime. Becoming a foster parent can be a life changing experience for both the adults and children.
“We count on wonderful adults who have committed their homes and their hearts to children in need of attention and affection,” said Will Lightbourne, Director of Santa Clara County’s Social Services Agency. “Thanks to these extraordinary individuals, our children in the foster care system can experience less fear about their present and more hope about their future.”
The official Proclamation of Foster Parent Month will take place today at 1:30 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Some foster parents will be attending and will be available to the media.
The process to become a foster parent starts with an application, a background check and training. It also includes meeting with a social worker for home visitations and consultation.
Steps to Becoming a Foster-Adoptive/Resource Parent
Federal and state law requires that Department of Family and Children’s Services licenses a home before a foster child can live in it. It can take up to four months to complete the following six steps needed to obtain the necessary licensing:
1. Applications and Orientation
A complete application includes information about your family members, family history and the reasons you want to be a parent. This application and other information can be obtained in the Social services electronic site. The orientation is an informal meeting to learn about the process, ask questions and decide if foster parenting is right for your family.
Prospective parents attend 27 hours of Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) training. This is a nationally renowned program that will enhance your life and your family. All parents involved in PRIDE training are required to attend CPR and First-Aid training. Prospects also learn basic fire and health requirements to ensure homes are suitable for children in the foster care system.
3. At-Home Consultation
The County of Santa Clara Department of Family and Children Services licensing unit schedules a time to meet with you and your family in your home, to ensure your home passes basic fire and health inspections and provides a suitable environment for children in the foster care system.
You will be informed of all the requirements during training
4. Complete and Pass Criminal Background check
Once the licensing is obtained, foster parents can make a decision about the number, ages, and behaviors of the children that you feel you can successfully accept into your family.
Once you are licensed you will begin to receive children into your home at your discretion. When you receive a call from the County’s placement support unit and discuss a particular child, you will have an opportunity to review their history and ask questions. You are under no obligation to take a child you do not believe is right for your family.
Foster parents receive Monthly financial assistance for each child they foster, Medi-Cal health insurance for each child and advocacy and support services. Prospective parents can be single, two-parent, or same gender families of all ethnicities and income levels.
If you would like to become a foster parent or want more information on how to be a resource for the County’s children in need, please contact (408) 299-KIDS or visit the Social Services website at: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/ssa/
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5121, Nicole Huff, Social Services Agency (408) 491-6750.
Posted: May 11, 2010