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Frequently Asked Questions About Fostering
1. What is foster care?
When the state investigates an allegation of maltreatment and a child is found to be unsafe within their family of origin and other relatives and friends (kin) are not immediately available, the state assumes custody of the child and places the child into foster care. Foster families provide temporary care for children while birth families work through a case plan in order to regain custody.
2. What is the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster families provide temporary care for children in State custody. These children usually return home or eventually go to live with relatives. Foster families have limited rights and responsibilities for the children in their care becasue the goal is to reunify a child with his birth family.
Adoption is a lifelong legal and emotional relationship with a child where adoptive parents assume all the legal rights and responsibilities that a birth parent would have. If reunification does not work for a child, a foster family may be asked if they would be willing to adopt a child.
3. Do a child’s birth parents visit him or her?
In most cases, yes. Becasue reunification is the initial goal for a child, visits between parents and children are an essential part of the efforts to reunite families. The child's caseworker has the primary responsibility for planning visits and arranging supervision, if required. The caseworker will talk with you and the child's parents to work out the time and location of the visits.
4. Do I have to own my own home?
No. You can rent or own an apartment, single-family house or condominium.
5. My husband is in the military and we live on base. Can we still be foster parents?
Yes, you would need to get permission from the base commander; your licensing worker will give you the information you need.
6. Does a foster child need his own bedroom?
No. A foster child can share a room with your children or other foster children of the same sex. The child should have a bed of his or her own.
7. Can a single person be a foster or adoptive parent?
Yes. In Alaska, single people can foster or adopt from the foster care system. Same gender couples can also be foster parents. Foster care and adoption by single parents as well as same gender couples, is permissible and supported.
8. How long does the process take to become a foster parent?
This will depend on your circumstances, but the process can take anywhere from two to six months depending on fingerprinting, background checks and training requirements.
9. Is there training provided?
Yes, there is training provided free of cost. Core Training for Resource Families is the initial training for newly licensed foster parents. This is available through the Alaska Center for Resource Families in classroom, self-study, and web based versions. Contact your local ACRF office or call 1-800-478-7307 to find out how to enroll in Core training.
10. If I am a relative, do I have to be licensed?
A child in OCS custody either needs to be placed with a relative or in a licensed facility. Relative placements don’t have to be licensed, but only licensed foster homes are eligible to receive the foster care payment. Relative placements do need to pass some basic background and reference checks. Relative placements are encouraged to apply for Alaska Temporary Assistance through the Division of Public Assistance to help with expenses if they choose not to be licensed or if they are unable to be licensed.
To find out more resources for unlicensed relative, visit the tab Relative Resources.
11. Can I work outside of my home?
For working parents, appropriate child care arrangements must be made by the foster parents. OCS will take care of the cost of a licensed child care provider up to a certain limit, talk to the child’s social worker for more information.
12. Is it okay that I have pets?
Yes. Proof of the animal’s health may be requested. Please discuss all pets with your licensing workers and social workers.
13.. What kind of financial supports are available for foster parents?
Foster care reimbursement is available for licensed homes to help with the daily costs of caring for children. This pre-determined daily rate is paid to the resource family on a “services rendered” basis, so you receive reimbursement for the days of care you provided in the previous month. These funds should help pay for food, clothing, school expenses, toys, allowances, and recreation. You should not think of the foster care reimbursement as income and it is not taxable.
14. Do we need to put the child on our medical insurance?
No. Most foster children are eligible for Medicaid. Alaska Native and American Indian children are usually eligible for medical care through the Indian Health Service.
15. If I have already had my finger prints done for my job, do I need to them again?
Yes. You will need to be fingerprinted again using the OCS contractor or by an OCS employee.