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Youth Villages Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Youth Villages provides foster care for children in state custody and for children who cannot live with their birth families. Below, you will find some frequently asked questions and answers about our program.

What makes foster care at Youth Villages different from other programs?
Who are the children in our program?
What are the duties of a foster parent?
Who can be a foster parent?
What kind of support does Youth Villages provide for foster parents?
If I become a foster parent, how long can I expect a child placed in my home to stay with me?
Can I adopt my foster child?
What reimbursement do foster parents receive?
What does a home study involve?
What can I expect from a home safety check?
Who determines what foster child will be placed in my home?
 



What makes foster care at Youth Villages different from other programs?

Our foster care program provides services to children and families with special emotional and behavioral needs.

Our program helps children and teenagers who:

  • Have developed emotional and/or behavioral problems
  • May be developmentally delayed
  • Need a structured and safe environment to overcome the challenges they face
  • Are receiving professional counseling
  • May have special medical needs

Every child in our care sees a counselor at least once each month. Youth Villages also provides special services to help our foster children do well in school and at home.

Who are the children in our program?

The children in Youth Villages' foster care program are between birth and age 21. Most are ages 8 to 17. They have been removed from the custody of their parent(s) generally due to neglect, abuse or abandonment. Some have been in foster care for many years while their parents try to resolve problems; others are entering the system for the first time. As a result of their troubled backgrounds, many of our foster children have difficulties in school. Some suffer from depression and have trouble making friends. Others may have trouble controlling anger and their emotions, following rules or respecting adult authority.

What are the duties of a foster parent?
  • Providing a safe, comfortable environment for the child
  • Providing for the child's emotional growth
  • Ensuring that the child attends school, monitoring progress and offering support
  • Ensuring that the child receives an annual physical exam and two dental visits each year
  • Attending a monthly foster parent support group
  • Providing consistent guidance that is age appropriate and does not involve corporal punishment
  • Providing recreational and enrichment activities
  • Ensuring that the child attends counseling sessions
  • Attending foster parent training sessions
Who can be a foster parent?

In every state, certain things are required of foster parents. Some of these things are:

  • Foster parent age requirements vary by state, but Youth Villages foster parents must be at least 25 years old.
  • Youth Villages' foster parents must be legally married or single. In Tennessee, if married, they must be married for at least one year.
  • Foster parents must be residents of the state in which they live.
  • Foster Parent must have a valid driver's license for the state in which they live. They must also have a car in good working condition and be willing to provide transportation as needed for the foster child.
  • Foster parents must have viable income not including public assistance, such as SSI, Food Stamps or AFDC.
  • Foster parents must be tolerant of differences in racial, ethnic, religious and educational backgrounds.
  • They must have adequate space in their homes. The foster child may share a bedroom with a child of the same gender and similar age, but must have his/her own bed. The child should also have adequate space to keep belongings (closet, drawers, etc.)
  • Foster parents must provide proof of homeowner's or renter's insurance and automobile insurance.
  • Foster parents must not be working with another foster care agency. If currently with another agency, they must formally terminate with that agency and verify this in writing.
  • Foster parents may not operate a licensed day home or daycare center in the home.
  • They may have no more than three minor children living in the home, and no more than two children under the age of 2.
  • Foster parents must pass both criminal record and driving record checks.
  • They must have an operable touch-tone telephone (in order to access staff pagers). In Tennessee, applicants must have a working land-line telephone.
  • Foster parents must be willing to refrain from any use of physical discipline with the foster child. Foster parents are expected to learn and use alternative forms of discipline.
  • All members of the prospective foster family must be interviewed. All members of the prospective foster family must receive required training.
  • Foster parents must be willing to work closely and cooperatively with Youth Villages' foster care counselors and staff. We consider foster parents to be a vital agent for change in the life of a foster child. We will do everything we can to make sure every foster parent is successful.

 

What kind of support does Youth Villages provide for foster parents?
  • Free training.
  • On-call support services by trained counselors 24 hours, 7 days a week. When you become a Youth Villages foster parent, a staff member will be assigned to help you meet requirements, handle any paperwork and provide ongoing support and advice.
  • Weekly parent support group meetings
  • Therapy for foster child
  • Monthly reimbursement
If I become a foster parent, how long can I expect a child placed in my home to stay with me?

A child may stay in your home a few weeks or a few years. The average stay is 12 to 18 months. The child's status is reviewed every six months. Youth Villages and the state children's service agencies in Tennessee and Mississippi are working to reduce the amount of time a child stays in foster care. Under the law, the states must develop a permanency plan for any foster child who is in care for 15 of 22 months. Some children will return to their birth families or relatives; others will be made available for adoption.

Can I adopt my foster child?

The majority of children in foster care across the country are not eligible for adoption. Before foster children can be made available for adoption, their parents' rights must be terminated. Foster parents are not required to adopt the foster children in their care. But, if a child has been in a foster home for more than a year and does become eligible for adoption, the foster parents get first preference in the adoption. If the child has been in the foster home less than a year at the time he becomes eligible for adoption, his foster parents' application to adopt will be reviewed along with other applicants. Counselors will then choose what they consider the best family to meet the child's individual needs.

What reimbursement do foster parents receive?

To help offset the cost of bringing a child into your home, Youth Villages provides foster parents with a monthly reimbursement starting at around $750 a month for parents caring for one child and going up to $2,500 a month or more for parents caring for more than one seriously troubled child. Foster parents must use this reimbursement to provide their foster children with food, clothing, school supplies, incidental expenses and a monthly allowance. Foster parents must also ensure that the child is allowed to participate in school and extracurricular activities such as sports teams or band -- and pay any expenses for those activities. State programs provide medical care for the children.

What does a home study involve?

The job of a foster parent is to provide a safe home which meets children's needs until they can go to a permanent home. They have round-the-clock close contact with very vulnerable children. A home study is done to assure the health and safety of children. Some information given in the home study processes are:

Autobiographies: Youth Villages' staff ask questions to learn about the foster parents' personalities, what growing up was like for them, how they were parented and how they make decisions. This will include information about marriages and divorces and descriptions of children.

Income: Foster parents must have enough income to meet the family's needs. Foster care reimbursements from Youth Villages are to support the child, not to provide income for the foster family.

Health: Foster parents must be sufficiently healthy to meet the needs of the child being placed in the home. TB tests are required.

Assessment: Staff takes a careful look at how a foster child will affect a family.

What can I expect from a home safety check?

Staff check the home to make sure certain specific requirements are met.

  • Home is generally clean and in good repair.
  • Home is adequately furnished.
  • Home must have a medication lock box, and the box must be under a second lock. All medications for the child and family must be kept in the lock box.
  • A smoke detector must be in the child's bedroom.
  • The home must have an A-B-C rated fire extinguisher (at least 2 pounds.)
  • If foster child's bedroom is on the second floor, it must have a fire ladder. Child's room cannot be above the third floor.
  • Child's room must have two exits: a door to the hallway and a window that opens. The window must not be barred or be painted or nailed shut.
  • Bathroom, bedroom and closet doors must either not lock or the lock must be workable from the outside.
  • No paint, turpentine, gasoline or other flammable materials are stored in the house.
  • The hot water heater must have a safety release valve.
  • The attic, basement and garage also must be inspected.
  • Unvented fuel-burning heaters are not allowed.
  • There must be no frayed wiring or exposed wiring.
  • If a child's room is in a basement, there can be no more than three steps leading to the outside.

 

Who determines what foster child will be placed in my home?

During the certification process, foster parents complete a profile of the type of child they would like to help. Our staff will try to make an appropriate match between the foster parents and child – taking into account the other children in the family and the space in the home. Obviously, the better the match between the child's needs and the parents' skills, the more successful the outcome will be. No child is ever placed with a foster parent without that parent's consent to the placement.

Communication lines between Youth Villages and foster parents are always open. Foster parents need to be able to accept support and guidance. Youth Villages' staff works hard to help ensure safety for all and a stable foster placement.

About Us
Youth Villages is a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health bringing help and hope to more than 25,000 children, families and young people across the United States this year. The organization offers a continuum of evidence- and research-based programs, including its two national models: YVIntercept, which offers intensive in-home services, and YVLifeSet, which gives former foster youth a good start on a successful adulthood.
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