Children in crisis need you
The purpose of foster care is to offer a safe, temporary, out-of-home placement for children who have been removed from their family due to abuse or neglect. There is such high demand right now – so many children in our area who need care – that we have been struggling to find foster homes for children of all ages. There are about 14,000 children in foster care in Michigan. The tri-county area, which we serve, currently accounts for more than half of all foster care cases in the state.
Oakland Family Services alone receives between 8 and 18 requests every single day to place children in foster homes. Often, requests we receive are from children in a shelter, because there continues to be no foster home for them, through Oakland Family Services or any other agency. Children as young as 2 have gone to a shelter, in one instance for as long as 2-3 weeks, as they wait on a foster home. We do not have enough foster homes to take these kids in, and care for them, at such a desperate, scary time in their lives.
We desperately need people who want to make a difference for these children – children who have endured abuse or neglect in their home – by becoming foster parents.
Discover answers to many of your questions about becoming a foster parent and preparing for your first placement.
If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent, you likely have many questions. Discover answers to many of your questions about the licensing process and preparing for your first placement.
I’m interested in becoming a foster parent. How do I get started?
Bethany offers an orientation class where you’ll learn about the children in foster care, policies and procedures, and the next steps to become licensed. This class is purely informational—there’s no expectation of commitment.
Find out when the next class is offered in your area.
When I’m ready to begin the licensing process, what does it cost?
The licensing process is free. But everyone in your family will need to complete a physical exam, so you may incur some cost there if your insurance does not cover it.
What are the next steps?
A licensing specialist will work with you on your application and fingerprinting.
Your specialist will conduct approximately three home visits. They will assess your home and family. They will speak with any children in your home and interview you about your childhood, schooling, employment, marriage, parenting style, and more.
You will complete some paperwork, and your specialist will write an approximately 25-page report that summarizes the home visits. If approved, the report will be sent for another approval by the state.
Once you’re approved, your specialist will notify you, and you’ll receive your license by mail.
How long does the licensing process take?
Your process shouldn’t take longer than six months. It depends on how quickly you move through your training. Some families get it done in three months. The total time from start to finish will vary from state to state.
How much training will I receive?
You’ll begin with pre-licensing training that includes trauma-informed parenting, behavior management, and discipline. You’ll also complete additional online training before you can be licensed.
*Each branch has a different training schedule with classes that are convenient for your schedule. Your local branch can provide specific information about training requirements. *
How long do I wait until my first placement?
If you are licensed for a wide age range, expect a placement soon. A narrow age range (or if you are only accepting males or females) will take longer.
How long is the average placement?
The average placement is about nine months. One year after a child is removed from their home, a court hearing determines the plan for the child. The court’s goal is to find permanency, whether the child is reunified at home or eventually placed with an adoptive family.
Can I decline a placement?
Yes, we encourage you to only take placements that you feel comfortable with.
Where do I meet the child? Does someone bring them to my home?
This varies, but typically a social worker from Child Protective Services will bring the child to your home. Soon after, you will be assigned a Bethany foster care specialist who will follow up with a visit.
What can I do to make the first few days easier for the child?
The first few days can be awkward until you develop a routine. Remember, being removed from their home and placed in foster care is traumatic. We encourage foster parents to go along with whatever the child is doing. If they want to sleep with all of their clothes and belongings, let them do that. Or if they don’t want to eat, don’t force them to eat.
Try to be relaxed, even on some of the house rules. Give them a chance to adjust to where they are. Don’t force conversation, but let them know they are safe, and you are available to help.
What should I have in the house to be ready for my first placement?
Kids typically come with a few things of their own, but sometimes they have nothing. It’s good to have a few items of clothing on hand—pajamas, a few sets of socks and underwear. Have a toothbrush for them and a few items that are specifically theirs, such as a stuffed animal they can keep. Foster parents often go shopping with the kids the next day for other essentials.
What if I need help?
During normal business hours, call your foster care specialist. Outside of office hours, we have emergency staff on call 24 hours, seven days a week.
We know you likely have even more questions you’d like to ask as you consider whether being a foster parent is right for you. Download our free ebook or contact us to learn more.
Call us at 269-983-7111, ext. 8407 and let us know that you are interested in obtaining information about becoming a foster parent. You may also contact us via email at: email Foster Parenting.
Berrien County Trial Court presents an orientation to fully explain the entire foster care program to interested families. This orientation allows a prospective foster parent to learn what is expected of him/her as a foster parent, and what services Berrien County Trial Court can provide to foster parents. You will also receive a copy of Berrien County Trial Court’s Foster Program’s policy and procedures.
A prospective foster parent must attend an orientation prior to being given a Foster Home License application. All adult caregivers in a household must attend an orientation to receive an application. By attending an orientation you are not obligated to become a foster parent, you have nothing to lose – just information to gain. If you or anyone you know have thought about fostering youth please call to schedule an orientation.
Following the orientation an application must be filled out in order to continue the process of becoming a foster parent. The application must be signed by the adult caregivers in the household.
Initial Evaluation / Home Study Phase
After you have returned your completed application, the Licensing Worker will schedule 2-3 home visits to complete the following:
- Criminal Record Clearance Request / background investigation
- Three non-relative references
- Medical Statement for each member of the household
- Rule Compliance Record form
- Miscellaneous agency forms
- Written Foster Home Evaluation
This process will take anywhere from 2 to 4 months.
Based on the information gathered during the evaluation/home study phase the Licensing Worker will send his/her recommendation to the Bureau of Regulatory Services in Lansing. The Bureau of Regulatory Services in Lansing will issue or deny a foster care license based on the information provided by the Berrien County Trial Court.
After the Bureau of Regulatory Services issues your foster care license, each foster parent must complete 6 hours of training (not including the orientation) prior to any foster youth being placed into in a foster home.
Foster Parents will be provided with on going training and support. Foster Parent training is scheduled on various dates and times, a notice of the upcoming training is mailed to each foster parent.
Whether you’re considering becoming a foster parent in Michigan for the first time or have been doing it for years, the Foster Care Navigator Program (FCNP) is here for you!
Following your initial inquiry, you will be matched with one of our experienced Foster Care Navigators who are excited to answer your questions while you decide if foster care is right for you, help guide you through the process if you do decide to pursue licensure, and provide additional resources and support as you welcome children into your home.
We’re here to help with the nitty-gritty details of paperwork as you begin the process – Answering questions and providing checklists.
We’re here to offer information and resources to help you decide if foster care is right for you and aid in preparations for your family’s future.
We’re here to be a listening ear and help you understand what to expect next as you walk through the licensure process and beyond.
The Process at a Glance
Begin by contacting a Navigator who will walk through the process with you.
Reach out to agencies near you to ask questions and attend orientations.
Apply to be licensed by the agency that fits your family best.
Attend PRIDE or GROW training.
Finalize your home study and receive your license!
Find An Agency Near You
Agencies will give detailed information about licensing, training, and orientation.
We are here to help
Mon-Fri: 8:30 – 5 and Wed: 8:30 – 7
Am I Eligible for Services?
Are you considering becoming a foster parent in Michigan?
Are you in the licensure process in Michigan?
Would you like more information, but aren’t ready to foster yet?
Are you already licensed and just looking to expand your network of support?
If you answered yes, you’re eligible for Navigator services – it’s that simple! Wherever you are on your foster care journey, we’re here for you!
Once you’ve begun working with an agency and have had your initial home visit, you will be referred by your worker to attend either PRIDE or GROW training depending on your region. You are welcome to attend training in any county that is convenient for you!
What are the Next Steps?
Become a Foster Parent
Holy Cross Services helps thousands of children find foster homes every year. We are committed to providing safe homes where children are cared for and can get a healthy start in life.
We support our foster parents with both initial and ongoing training to help them succeed. We ensure foster parents meet state licensing requirements, while providing the resources they need to be healthy influences to some of Michigan’s most vulnerable children.
Foster Care with Holy Cross Services
At Holy Cross, the primary goal of foster care is to provide a stable, nurturing home to children when they are unable to remain in the home with their biological family.
The foster home is a place where the child receives services to reach a safe, healthy and supportive plan for a permanent living situation.
What is a Foster Parent?
Types of Foster Care
A child is placed with an already licensed family that was previously unknown to him/her.
Independent Living Plus, Host Home Providers.
Host Homeproviders open up their homes to older teens, ages 16-19 who have an open foster care case. Host Home Providers are not licensed foster homes. Youth in this program are in need of mastering daily living skills in order for them to live independently. The Host Home Provider
provides supervision, works with the Foster Care Worker and Life Skill Coach in mentoring the youth.
A child is placed with a relative to his/her biological family that becomes licensed after placement.
Can I Be a Foster Parent?
Foster parents must be:
- 18 or more years old
- Residing in the U.S. legally
- Have a desire to open their home and heart to children who have experienced trauma
- Have the ability to empathize with children and adults
- With flexibility to manage changing schedules
- Willing to work with child welfare agencies and follow Licensing Rules for foster family homes
- With a history free from felony, criminal sexual conduct, and/or Child Protective Service substantiated abuse
They do not have to:
- Be married
- Own their own home
- Meet a certain income or education level
- Be experienced in providing foster care
Holy Cross Services does not discriminate against any individual or group because of race, sex, religion, age, national origin, color, height, weight, marital status or gender identity.
Living in an unhealthy family environment, Robert was brave enough to call social services on his own and removed himself from his home.
Watch ‘Instant Family’ at two Oakland County movie theaters, learn how to become a foster or adoptive parent in Michigan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 15, 2018
CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112
LANSING, Mich. – Moviegoers at several showings of “Instant Family” at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills and Emagine Theater in Royal Oak can learn how they can become foster and adoptive parents.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will set up information tables and banners at AMC Star Great Lakes 25, 4300 Baldwin Road, Nov. 16-25 for the 7 p.m. “Instant Family” showing each day – with the exception of Thanksgiving. Staff will provide information about how to become a foster parent and answer questions.
The Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) will be available at Emagine Royal Oak, 200 N. Main St., to answer moviegoers’ questions and provide information about the more than 300 children in Michigan who are available for adoption and do not have an identified family. MARE will be available on Friday, Nov. 16, from 5-10 p.m. and on Saturday Nov. 17 and Sunday Nov. 18 from noon to 5 p.m.
The movie, starring Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne and Octavia Spencer, tells the story of a family who adopts from foster care. It is inspired by the experiences of director Sean Anders, who adopted three siblings from foster care.
“Michigan has about 13,700 children in foster care at any given time,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon. “We need foster families in Metro Detroit and around the state to keep these children safe and to care for them until they can be returned to their family – which is the priority as long as it’s safe – or find a loving adoptive home.”
Why Project 99?
There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States at any given time. In Michigan, approximately 13,000 children are in foster care and there are upwards of 800 in Kent County.
Foster parents make the world a better place — one child at a time — by providing a safe, nurturing home for children until they can be returned to their families.
Supporting the child’s biological family as well as their foster family enables children to heal from past trauma, helps keep families together, and improves outcomes for all.
On average, foster parents have a 50% burnout rate. Agencies estimate that 70% of certified homes do not make it through their second year. Children in foster care need a consistent, loving environment and foster parents can provide that when they have the support they need.
We asked foster parents in West Michigan for unique ways that they have felt supported by their community. Some of their answers were expected – babysitting, bringing meals, and transportation.
“It’s the little things that people did that made the most difference” Kurt, Foster Parent
Other answers were more surprising – smiling in the grocery store, giving a hug, or mailing a card.
Our community can change the foster parent burnout rate by providing support – no matter our age or abilities. When foster parents thrive, children in foster care do.
Check out the list of 99 ways you can support a foster parent, written by foster parents.
Step 1: Check out this list of 99 ways (above) to support a foster parent, written by foster parents. Identify a few that you/your family can do for those in our community.
Step 2: Advocate and Educate. Encourage others in the community to break free of stigma’s related to foster care. Share this page and video with your network to begin inspiring change.
Step 3: Head over to Foster Kent Kids for a list of tangible ways you can support foster families in our community.
Meet the Artists
I am an artist who believes art is a platform to tell a bigger story, challenge everyday thinking, and effect change. After fostering and adopting my nephew, my parents decided to open their arms to foster other children and I learned first-hand how valuable community supports are in foster care. I hope this project will shift communities’ perspective by connecting the average person with practical ways they can get involved with foster care without becoming foster parents.
I am a West Michigan native with strong ties to the foster care community. Not only do I work in the field, but I have lived experience navigating both foster care and adoption. I am honored to be able to create messaging around the success and needs in foster care through WMPC and Foster Kent Kids Coalition, but even more honored to use the bigger platform of ArtPrize. My hope is this project will open the eyes and the hearts of those in our community to show how they can support people in their most vulnerable state. Success is driven by support, in any capacity; and everyone has something they can do, no matter how small.
I am a videographer who believes in telling powerful stories, inspiring others to action, and in serving God and others. I believe that we need community to thrive, and that we need to work on serving foster families better as a society to help them succeed. I hope that this project will encourage others to take action in finding ways to serve foster families.
Thank you for your interest in learning more about how to become a Foster and/or Adoptive Parent. Fostering a child is a rewarding and challenging opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. We need you, and many others like you, to take on the rewarding opportunity of loving and nurturing a child in need!
When children cannot remain in their own homes due to safety concerns, and appropriate relatives are not available, Foster Care is the next least restrictive and preferred setting. While Foster Care is considered a temporary situation it is a full time commitment. A child will remain in a Foster home until such time as their parents or an appropriate relative are able to safely resume their parenting responsibilities or an adoptive family is found. Sometimes this process moves quickly yet the length of placement varies with each child’s circumstances.
During the time a child is residing with a Foster family, a case worker will visit your home monthly to monitor the child’s progress. You will also have a monthly visit from your placement specialist who is there to support you in your role as a Foster Parent. You will receive a monthly stipend which is reimbursement for meeting the basic needs of the child or children placed in your home.
Adoption is the permanent and legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from one family to another. When adopting children through Wayne County Children Services, the agency would first obtain permanent custody of the child through Juvenile Court and then the child would be legally eligible for adoption. Adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities any biological parent would have. This is a permanent arrangement. Some adopted children are eligible to receive a monthly stipend from the state. This adoption subsidy is child specific and determined by the state on a case-by-case basis.
Can Foster Families Adopt a Foster Child?
Yes. When a child becomes eligible for adoption, often times the person or family with whom the child has been residing is the preferred option to adopt. Wayne County Children Services firmly believes moves hurt kids and we strive to reduce the number of moves children experience. Sometimes however, circumstances exist which might make someone else a more appropriate choice to adopt. Some examples of this might be a relative, or to reunify a child with siblings already being cared for by someone else who is willing and able to care for all of the children together.
To Be a Foster and/or Adoptive Parent:
- You only have to be 21 years old to become a licensed Foster Parent.
- You only have to be 18 years old to be approved for Adoption.
- You do NOT have to be married to become a licensed Foster Parent
- If you once were married, you do have to be legally divorced or separated.
- You don’t have to be rich but you do need to show a steady and stable source of income.
- You do not have to own your own home but if you do rent, you must have the approval of your landlord to foster children.
- Your home must be able to pass an Inspection performed by the local Fire Marshall.
- All adult household members will need to complete a criminal background check but NOT all crimes will disqualify you from becoming a licensed Foster Parent.
- While we do need Foster Parents for all children, you can specify the age, race, gender and number of children you are willing to care for
If you have have specific questions regarding foster and/or adoption parenting in Wayne County, please feel free to contact our recruitment specialist Suzanne Greenberg at (330) 345-5340 ext. 2339 or request more information via the link below.