Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to be licensed?
A: From the time we receive all of your paperwork, it normally takes between 30-90 days.
Q: Once I’m licensed, how long will it take before children are placed in my home?
A: It depends on the type of care you want to provide. If you are planning to care for school aged children, of either gender, in regular or emergency “receiving” care, or respite care, you would probably begin receiving calls fairly soon after becoming licensed. More specialized homes and those that take only preschool aged children usually have to wait a bit longer as there are fewer of those children needing foster care.
Q: Do I have a choice about the types of children placed in my home?
A: Absolutely. We license homes for children aged newborn through 17 years or, occasionally, older. Foster parents can specify their preferences as to the ages or gender of the foster children placed in their home, as well as any behavioral problems they don’t feel equipped to handle.
Q: How many children can I be licensed for?
A: A number of factors affect how many children can be placed with you. Single parents can be licensed for a maximum of 4 children including their own, assuming the home has adequate facilities to meet the requirements. Couples can be licensed for a maximum of 6 children, including their own children. Each child needs about 50 square feet of bedroom space: there can only be 4 children in a bedroom, and children younger than 1 year can sleep in a crib in the master bedroom.
Q: Can a single person be a foster parent?
A: Yes, we have a number of single parents who provide excellent care.
Q: Is there an upper age limit for foster parents?
A: No, older people are some of the best foster parents! If there are health concerns, however, the Foster Home Licenser may ask for a statement from your doctor.
Q: What if the foster parent(s) work outside the home?
A: Many good foster parents work outside the home. In most cases the State covers the cost of childcare for foster children when the foster parents work outside the home.
Q: How long do foster children stay in foster care?
A: Foster care is a temporary arrangement for children. The amount of time a child spends in foster care depends on the particular child and his or her parents. With so many variables, the length of stay for a child is hard to predict. The law requires that every effort be made to reunite children with their parents as soon as it appears safe for the child. Some children return home within the first 30 days of being placed in foster care. If a child cannot safely return home that quickly it often takes from 6 to 18 months to resolve the safety issues. If a child cannot be reunited safely within a certain period of time, the law requires that another permanent home be found for the child. A small number of children are in foster care more than 2 years. An even smaller number remain in foster care until age 18.
Q: Do foster children see their biological parents while they are in foster care?
A: Yes. Washington state law requires visits to occur between foster children and their parents while children are in foster care. Initially, these visits usually occur on a weekly basis at the DCFS office or another location in the community, as a part of the court ordered plan to reunite the family. The location and schedule of visits is arranged between the biological parents, the court, the assigned DCFS social worker and the YFC case manager. Most supervised visits are overseen by Youth for Christ staff.
Q: Is it true foster parents cannot spank a foster child?
A: Yes; Foster parents are prohibited by law from using any form of physical punishment. Positive and caring discipline should be used to modify the child’s behavior.
Q: What kinds of behavioral challenges do foster children generally have?
A: Children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment often exhibit behavioral problems, developmental delays, sleep disturbances, bedwetting, and emotional instability. Some may have symptoms of prenatal alcohol or drug exposure such as irritability, extreme sensitivity to stimulation, distractibility or an inability to learn from consequences.
Q: Can we take the foster child with us on vacation?
A: Yes; however, you must have prior arrangements approved by the DCFS social worker regarding all out of state travel.