"Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

FOSTER CARE IN LOUISIANA

In Louisiana, there are over 4,000 children in foster care on any given day. The children range in age from birth to seventeen and are of different races and backgrounds. Children are in foster care because of abuse, neglect or other family situations because it is not safe for the children to remain in their homes. Because it is best for children to live in a family setting, there is an ongoing need for loving and safe foster homes. While homes for all ages and types of children are needed, there is a great need of homes for teenagers, sibling groups and children with special needs including physical, emotional or behavioral disabilities.

Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services and
Louisiana Baptist Children's Home Partnership

Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) looks for loving, safe and stable homes for children that must live in foster care. LBCH, a licensed child-placing agency, understands the tremendous need for foster and adoptive homes in Louisiana and has entered into a partnership with DCFS to assist with recruitment and support of foster homes throughout the faith-based community. Services provided by LBCH may vary in different regions of the state based upon availability of LBCH staff, but includes recruitment of foster/adoptive families within the faith-based community, presenting foster/adoptive parent orientation, assisting with foster parent training, conducting home studies of prospective foster/adoptive families, certifying and maintaining foster/adoptive families and providing voluntary placement support services to foster/adoptive families.

THE NEED FOR FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION

The Louisiana Department of Children & Families (DCFS) is the state agency mandated by law to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect by parents or caretakers of children. Children come to the attention of DCFS because of concerns from a teacher, police officer, family member, friend, doctor, neighbor concerned citizen or mandated reporter. Anyone can make a referral if they suspect a child has been abused or neglected. Referrals that meet the criteria for a report of child abuse or neglect will be investigated. If DCFS finds a family needs help, every effort is made to provide services to help the family resolve their problem and prevent the removal of the children from their home. Only if reasonable efforts fail, will the agency seek authorization from the court to remove the child or children from their family.

WHAT IS FOSTER CARE?

Foster care is a protective service for children and their parents who must live apart because of child abuse, neglect or special family circumstances requiring the need for out-of-home care. Foster care is intended to provide temporary care for a child. The goal of the foster care program is to maintain the child in a safe and nurturing environment while assisting his parents or caretakers in resuming responsibility and custody or until an alternative permanent placement (usually adoption) for the child is found if he cannot return to his biological family. The first goal of foster care is to reunite the child with his biological family-this process is called reunification. DCFS works to locate relatives to support the birth family during reunification efforts and who are willing to care for the child while the agency works towards reunification. If relatives are not a placement option for the children, DCFS places children in certified foster homes.

WHAT IS ADOPTION?

Adoption is the method provided by law to establish the legal and social relationship of parents and children between persons who are not related by birth with the mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and their birth parents. Adoption is a permanency goal of the foster care system within DCFS. Should there be no relatives committed to adopt, foster parents caring for the child are usually given first choice to adopt the child.

WHAT DO FOSTER/ADOPTIVE PARENTS DO?

Foster parents provide for the daily care needs of the child, in a safe and stable family-like environment. Foster parents work with DCFS to assist in achieving permanency for the child either through reunification or adoption. Foster parenting comes with some challenges. The child has a different history and may even be of a different race than the foster family. Some fostering is very temporary; the child may come and go quickly from the family unit. Foster parents do not possess all parental rights and responsibilities of a birth parent and must work cooperatively with the birth parents and the agency to care for the child. The foster family must open their home to agency staff and share personal information with the social worker, including reporting changes in the family's circumstances.

Once a child has been adopted, the adoptive parent is considered the child's legal parent and possesses all the same rights and responsibilities as any parent. It is a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Once the child is adopted, the agency is no longer involved and the adoptive parents make all decisions for the child.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO BECOMING A FOSTER/ADOPTIVE PARENT?

Families interested in becoming foster/adoptive parents must go through a certification process including training, background checks and a home study. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, have sufficient income to meet their own basic needs, and be in good physical, emotional and mental health. A Foster/Adoptive parent can be single, married, divorced, or widowed. Foster/Adoptive parent applicants must be committed to provide the child with positive forms of discipline and cannot use physical punishment of any kind.

FOSTER/ADOPTIVE CERTIFICATION PROCESS:

  1. Orientation - Informational meeting to provide an overview of the agency and the foster/adoption programs.

  2. Application –Complete and submit an application packet including personal identification information, family profile information, and reference list.

  3. Criminal and Agency Clearance- Every applicant and household member 18 years and older must be fingerprinted for the purposes of criminal clearance. An agency clearance is also completed on all household members 18 years and older. If someone has resided in another state or country within the last 5 years, clearances must also be obtained for those places of residence.

  4. Pre-Service Training - Training generally consists of 21 class hours of training and 9 hours of homework. All spouses must complete pre-service training for the family to be certified as foster/adopt parents. Children are not allowed at training.

  5. Home Study - During training, a social worker will conduct a series of interviews, home visits, a safety and fire inspection and obtain required documentation. During the certification process the social worker will explore with the family what ages, gender, races, number and types of children they are able to care for and will make a recommendation for certification.

  6. Placement – Only after a family is certified can a child or children will be placed the home. This may happen immediately or may take longer, depending on the age and type of child for which the family is certified. The agency makes every effort to place children with a family that best matches the family's strengths and preferences. A family has the right to refuse any placement should they feel they cannot meet the child's needs.

FOSTER PARENTING ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Foster Parents have many different roles and responsibilities when caring for the child, working with the agency and supporting the child's birth family. These include:

Provides for the daily care of the child

  • Provides food, clothing (adequate, clean and in good repair), shelter, personal care, hygiene

  • Ensures safety and security of the child

  • Encourages the child to participate in recreational and community activities and provides transportation to such activities

  • Ensures that the child attends school, if age appropriate

Ensures continue growth and development of the child

  • Provides nurturing, discipline, moral instruction, tender loving care

  • Transports and accompanies the child to all health, dental, mental health appointments and school meetings.

  • Gives the child respect as an individual and respects the child's race, culture, and religion

  • Instructs the child in good health and hygiene habits

  • Investigates and encourages the development of the child's special talents and skills

  • Assists the child in attending religious services (as agreed upon by the child's parent)

  • Identifies and works towards assisting the child in overcoming his/her special needs

Builds a positive, supportive relationship with the child's family

  • Respects the child's feelings about his/her family

  • Engages the child's family in a relationship and offers the family support, encouragement and assistance

  • Serves as a teacher and mentor to the child's family

  • Transports the child to and supports the visitation plan as determined by the court/agency

  • Shares relevant information about the child to his/her family

  • When possible, includes the child's family in the child's activities

Works in collaboration with the social worker, other professionals and agency as part of the team

  • Informs social worker of any special needs of the child including education, mental health treatment, health needs, physical needs, etc.

  • Notifies the social worker and obtains permission before taking the foster child on trips of extended time or distance

  • Maintains a "running" record of notes and/or questions of important matters to have the most productive discussions with the social worker

  • Closely observes and documents the foster child's behavior so that these can be clearly and specifically communicated to the child's social worker

  • Requests regular consultations with the social worker to discuss all issues regarding the child and his family and implement the suggestions resulting from the meeting

  • Attends all official case conferences, administrative case reviews, and court hearings to offer input regarding the child

  • Encourages and supports the social worker's relationship with the child

  • Informs the child that information the child shares with you may need to be shared with the social worker especially if the information could lead to harm to the child or others

  • Respects and supports the final decisions made by the agency or court if they can be substantiated as in the best interests of the child

  • Meets with the child's social worker monthly to get and give information

Follows Louisiana DCFS licensing guidelines for family foster homes

  • Keeps accurate records on the child including medical, dental, mental health, education, monthly progress notes/reports, life book, visitation, and any written material necessary to case planning

  • Gives the agency adequate notice (at least 10 days) when requesting removal of a child from the home

  • Reports any changes to the living arrangements or family circumstances to the agency immediately

  • Notifies the social worker regarding extended child care arrangements

  • Maintains the home environment in safe and sanitary manner

  • Fulfills all training/education requirements

  • Meets with foster care worker monthly


WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP TO FOSTER/ADOPT?

If you are interested in becoming a Foster/Adoptive parent, the first step is to attend an orientation session where you will learn about the certification process, the children needing care and requirements for foster/adoptive parent certification. If you like what you hear and are ready to proceed with certification, you will be invited to the pre-service training.

To learn more about foster parenting or to attend an orientation in your area, contact Louisiana Baptist Children's Home @318.343.2244.


 
To view connect127.org on your phone, scan the above code!
Facebook
For the latest information and inspiring posts, please follow us on Facebook!