Frequently Asked Questions
Foster care is a temporary service that is used in conjunction with other services to facilitate family reunification and permanency. Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. specializes in Therapeutic Foster Care, which is designed to serve emotionally challenged children in family style settings.
Why are Therapeutic Foster Parents Needed?
Therapeutic foster care is needed for children who have special needs that can not be met through less restrictive foster care resources. Therapeutic foster parents are needed to serve as members of a multidisciplinary team which is responsible for ensuring that children:
- Are nurtured and safe
- Overcome developmental delays and needs
- Are assisted with separation and loss issues
- Develop an identity which helps them feel good about themselves, promotes positive relationships with their families, and respects ethnic and cultural alliances
- Develop skills and ongoing relationships that lead to a successful transition into adulthood
- Are prepared to be reunited with biological family, to be placed for adoption, or to live responsibly and independently.
What Type of Children Come into Foster Care?
On an average day there are over 550,000 children in foster care in the United States. They come from every background, culture, age and circumstance. They are:
- brothers and sisters who need to stay together
- teen mothers and their babies
- medically fragile children
- often diagnosed with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders
- in need of love, stability, and support
What Type of Behaviour Might a Child in Foster Care Exhibit?
A wide range of emotions and behaviors difficulties are displayed by children needing therapeutic foster care. Almost every child in foster care has had some type of traumatic experience that affects the way the child reacts to people and situations. The needs of each child must be assessed individually and appropriate intervention techniques developed. Most children exhibit improvements as a result of effective assessments and individualized treatment planning.
How Long does a Child Typically Remain in Foster Care?
A child’s stay in foster care depends on the needs of the child. Our goal is to facilitate a return to birth family where appropriate or to facilitate another permanency option. Some foster care placements lead to adoption. Older youth often remain in care until they are adequately prepared for independent living.
What Happens if a Child’s Placement does not Appear to be Working?
One of the most stressful events in a child’s life is moving to a new home and unfamiliar circumstances. Children being removed from their biological family suffer tremendous trauma and need a stable, consistent, supportive environment. Movement while in care is a major source of harm to children. Movements should be planned with time to prepare the child and only after the team (which includes foster parents, biological parents, social worker and other professionals) has considered all alternatives and implications. The 24 hour availability of support staff who works in conjunction with well trained foster parents minimizes the disruptions of foster care placements.
What Training and Financial Arrangements can Foster Parents Expect?
Forty (40) hours of pre-placement training is required of prospective therapeutic foster parents. The pre-placement training is a nationally recognized training program called Group Preparation and Selection, or GPS. Continuing education is a necessary component of therapeutic foster care and is offered on a regular basis. Families who, after careful screening, are approved as therapeutic foster parents can expect supportive services from Seraaj Family Homes. This included ongoing education, respite provisions, and case management/support services. Financial compensation includes incentive payment for the completion of pre-placement training and monetary difficulty of care payment. A monthly board payment is also provided to aid in the care of the child. Also, Medicaid provides medical coverage for most children in care.
Can I pick or choose the foster child I want to foster?
Part of a successful partnership with Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. is the matching process. We pride ourselves on developing a rapport with our professional family teachers that will clue us in on the children that should best match with your family balance. The final decision belongs to the foster parent and is based on how their skills can best meet the needs of the youth presented.
Can I specify what age range, sex, race, or ethnicity of a child my family can accommodate?
Can I foster to adopt a child?
Can I be a foster parent as a single, unmarried person?
How long does it take to become a licensing foster parent?
Our licensing process involved 60 hours of training, which is divided into three hour sessions during a 10 week timespan.
How old do I have to be to be a foster parent?
You must be at least 25 years old.
How many children can I foster at one time?
Currently under Alabama law, you can only foster one child at a time, unless they are biological siblings. If you’re fostering in our other region in Maryland, you can have up to two children at a time in a foster home or more if they are siblings.
Are the benefits of fostering the same in every state?
Yes, for qualitative benefits, although that depends on the dynamic between you and your foster child(ren). No, for quantitative/monetary benefits. Every state has different stipend rates and methods of how the stipend is provided. For example, in Alabama, the foster parent gets paid by the Department of Human Resources and Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. While in Maryland, foster parents only get paid from Seraaj Family Homes, Inc.
What is the difference between being foster parents with the Department of Human Resources vs. being a foster parent with Seraaj Family Homes, Inc.?
DHR deals in traditional foster care, which doesn’t require the same level of intensive support and services required in therapeutic foster care. Whereas, SFH specializes in therapeutic foster care, so its foster parents require extra training so that they may be highly skilled caregivers. Our foster parents are involved in executing a child’s individual treatment plan, participating in treatment team meetings, supporting the child’s participation in school and recreation activities, and sometimes mentoring their child’s birth parents. Generally, more intensive support is provided by the agency to its therapeutic foster parents, as well.
What is the age range for children in foster care with SFH?
Our children in care range from infancy to age 21.
Do I have to interact with biological families?
Yes. We expect our foster parents to interact with the biological parents to maintain familial attachments and facilitate effective co-parenting, unless otherwise court ordered. Our foster parents will have the support of case manager, social workers, and clinical staff to learn how to effectively nurture the familial relationship.
Does the reimbursement I receive cover all the child’s expenses?
Not always. The stipend is consistent, whereas a child’s needs may fluctuate from season to season. For example, in the summertime, there may be expenses for camp and other activities like sports. The stipend is meant to offset out-of-pocket costs; however, there may be times when there are small out-of-pocket expenses. We can work with parents who need assistance in budgeting to stipend more effectively if needed.
Can I request “time off” if needed?
If you need someone to care for your foster child momentarily, you can request “respite care,” which is planned, or emergency temporary care. Respite is often only a few days in length. If longer “time off” is needed, then you may speak to your case manager or social worker to develop a plan of care for the youth.
Can I be a "temporary" foster parent?
Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. does have foster parents who provide respite care only.
What are the basic standards for being a foster parent?
You must be 25 years old, have verifiable income to support your family, and your home must have at least one extra room per child you’re fostering (or separate beds in the same room for siblings). In addition, you should have enough time, flexibility, and a clear purpose/intention to provide care for a youth.
What happens if I take in a child and the child doesn’t fit with my family or we are unable to meet the child’s needs?
Speak immediately with your case manager or social worker so your concerns can be identified and solutions can be implemented. Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. seeks to make the first placement the last placement. We do understand that circumstances arise that do not make this possible. It is important to communicate with your case manager from the beginning what you believe your needs are and are receptive to interventions being discussed before removing a child from your home.
Can I take my foster child to church?
You may take and involve your foster child with any of your family’s practices, pending it does not conflict with their culture or personal/familial beliefs. This will be something to discuss prior to placement when the referral is presented.
Can I homeschool my foster child if I choose to?
That depends. This will be a team decision and will need to be cleared by the local Department of Human Resources.