Becoming a Foster Parent FAQ

If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent with Community Care, you likely have a number of questions.

Family at a laptop.We understand that this is a step that no one takes lightly. To this end, we want to help you become as informed as possible. Please look through this list of questions and answers and give us a call with other questions that you may have (207-945-4240 or 1-888-236-2273).

 

 

You can contact the Community Care Foster Care Developer by calling 1-888-236-2273.
No, we encourage any adult who is interested in offering foster care to explore foster parenting.
No. As long as your house, apartment, condominium, or mobile home meets the licensing and fire safety code expectations, it can be licensed for foster care by the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The process varies based on current license status. If you already have a treatment level foster care license, Community Care may accept you immediately following an interview and a review of your home study and other information. If you have a DHHS family level foster care license, the process could take 3-to-4 weeks. For new families just beginning the process, it will likely take more time, about 6 months, so that background checks, finger-printing, water tests, fire inspection and the initial home-study and training can be completed.
Yes. Children can share bedrooms as long as it's age appropriate and safe for the children who are being placed in your home to do so.
There is no minimal income requirement. The licensing rules state that a foster family needs to be self-sufficient --meaning that a family must be able to pay their living expenses without depending on the foster care payment.
New foster parents are required to attend an 18-hour training. This training typically is offered over the course of 3 Saturdays, or 2 evenings per week for 3 weeks. Once a family is licensed, they must obtain 36 hours of training every 2 years in order to maintain their licensure.
You must be at least 21 years old, be financially self-supporting, and meet the qualifications required by both DHHS licensing and Community Care. These qualifications include: passing of background checks, experience working with children with special needs, the ability to work in a team setting, agreement to follow state standards of care, and the willingness to complete continued training.
It depends on the particular child and the parent’s situation. Every effort is made to reunify parents and children if it is safe to do so. If it is not possible, other plans for permanency are explored. A child may live with you anywhere from a few days to several years. Most of the time, your family and home is a temporary bridge to either returning back to the youth’s family of origin or, in some cases, to an adoptive family or to independent living as an adult.
The state and court systems determine if a foster child will be considered to be eligible for adoption. The primary goal is to reunify the youth back to their family of origin whenever possible. If the state and courts determine it is not safe for a child to return home, that child may be eligible to be adopted. Foster parents can, and sometimes do, adopt foster children who have been in their care.
Treatment-level foster homes generally work with youth who have a higher level of emotional and behavioral needs. These children often require more support in the home as well as additional help from their foster parents with such things as different parenting techniques, behavior plans, education, and transportation/appointment/recreation support. Community Care staff will assist you in supporting the children in your home.
Yes. Currently, foster families receive 14 nights of paid respite each year from DHHS. Community Care assists families in identifying respite homes that can be used during these breaks. If a foster parent would like additional respite time, parents can arrange and pay for respite on their own.
Yes. Our foster parents often have at least one parent working outside of the home. Sometimes, it is best for one parent not to work outside of the home or to have a very flexible job because a child who is placed in your home may have needs during, as well as outside of, typical “school hours” for which a foster parent will need to attend.
There are many children that need a foster home. Community Care will work with you to determine the profile of a foster child who would likely be most successful in your home. When a child enters the system, DHHS will contact agencies like Community Care to determine if there is a foster home that can accept the child. Community Care staff are initially responsible for determining if a particular child would likely be a “good match” for your home based on your family structure, other children in the home, the need for a particular set of skills and experiences, location of your home, etc. If we think that a child would be a good match, we will call you to share the information that we know about the child and ask you if you would be willing to accept this child into your family and home. If you agree, DHHS places that child in your home.

You will receive a great deal of support from Community Care! We understand that it may be challenging to have a treatment-level foster child in your home; we are grateful that your family wants to help Maine children and we are prepared to help! Initially, we will help you get licensed and trained.

When a child is placed in a Community Care home, the child and the foster family receive support from an entire Community Care team including: a case manager, direct support staff , the foster home developer, the program Manager, and the clinical supervisor

This Community Care team will provide the following:

  • Treatment plan development/support and strategies for implementation
  • Case management to ensure that your foster child has all of his/her health, mental health, educational, socialization, and recreational needs met
  • Specially trained staff that will come into your home to help the foster child and your family
  • Facilitation of regular team meetings
  • Support and strategies dealing with family of origin visits, communication, and reunification (if appropriate) strategies
  • Assistance identifying and accessing respite resources
  • Therapeutic and support groups for your foster child
  • Crisis planning and support
  • Ongoing training and support
  • 24/7 support/consultation if needed
  • Support to help you maintain your license

The best way to answer this question is, “Everything any parent does—plus!” This might include such items as a providing a safe and clean home, nutritious food, activities, care and nurturing, opportunities to learn and develop new skills and gain maturity, educational support, access to health care, gifts on holidays and birthdays, school supplies, and fun!

As a treatment-level parent, you will also provide your child with the opportunity to work on treatment plan goals, implement specialized strategies to address their issues, help them to participate in team meetings, and accompany them to appointments with other professionals. We encourage foster parents to treat the foster child in their home in the same way that they do for their own children so that the child does not feel he or she is being treated differently.

We currently are able to support foster homes in Hancock, Kennebec, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Knox, and Waldo counties. We are also able to serve parts of Aroostook and Washington counties. If you live in one of these counties, or live in an area that is close to one of them, we will be happy to explore supporting you too! To find out if we can serve the town in which you live give us a call at 1-888-236-2273.

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many variables. Foster children are assigned one of five levels (A, B, C, D, and E) depending on their challenges and their level of need and support. Treatment foster parents accept children who are placed at the top three levels (C, D, and E) as these children often have more excess behaviors and a higher level of need. These levels are evaluated once a year and a level can change depending on progress or increased needs. Foster families’ reimbursement rates depend on the level at which a child is assessed. In addition to the daily rate, a small clothing and diaper allowance is offered. It is important to remember that the State requires that foster parents not be dependent on foster care payments to financially support their families. These payments are considered to be compensation for the expenses incurred while you are supporting a foster child rather than as “pay” or a salary.

So, are you interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent with Community Care? Please call us at 207-945-4240 or 1-888-236-2273 and ask to speak to the foster care developer. We are happy to answer any questions, give you more information, or connect you with one of our current foster families to find out more about becoming a Community Care Foster Parent.