Taking the first step in becoming a foster parent or learning about adoption can be intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start and who to contact. Sonja Stang, PATH’s Director of Community Relations, writes about the initial steps to becoming a foster and adoptive parent.
Becoming a Foster Parent
If you are interested in becoming a licensed foster home with PATH, you can inquire by calling 877-766-7284, sending a message through our website (www.pathinc.org), or private messaging PATH on Facebook. Our recruitment and licensing specialists will be in contact with you within 24 hours to answer your questions, talk you through the process, and help you make the initial decision if providing foster care is right for you. They will also talk about the variety of options we have for providing care. Between full-time, respite, regular foster care, and Family Support, families can choose what would best fit their lifestyles. Foster parents receive a per diem payment to assist in the cost of adding an additional family member.
Becoming foster care licensed typically takes 2-4 months, but additional time is dependent upon completion of required trainings. In North Dakota, those trainings are PRIDE training, CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention Training), and a TFC (Treatment Foster Care) weekend.
PATH provides excellent training opportunities to foster parents. We strive to make sure our foster parents feel supported with education for professional growth and development so they can best meet the needs of youth in their care. We consider you part of the child’s professional team!
We license a variety of people to provide foster care, including single people, individuals who identify as LGBTQ, retired people, unmarried couples, and married couples. We license families who rent homes, own homes, and live in apartments; families who live in the city or the country; families who work or stay home.
Requirements for fostering:
- Must be 21 years old
- Must live in North Dakota
- Must have a Driver’s License and a vehicle
- Must pass background checks
- Must have adequate space in your home for a child
- Must be financially stable
- Must have a work schedule conducive to fostering
- If Applicable, both partners need to be on board
- Must be able to commit to weekend trainings
- Must have a genuine desire to work with kids and families
Foster care licensors will come to your home to complete your home assessment. They will ask you questions, get to know your family, and assess your home. This is also a great time for foster parents to ask additional questions!
Once your license is approved and you have completed necessary training, you are ready to take placement! Sometimes that can be very quick, even within a week. Other times, it can take a little longer to find the placement that’s best for you. We want to set you up for success, so the right match is imperative.
With low caseloads for social workers, regular contact with your social worker, and 24/7 on-call services, PATH is able to provide you with the support you need. PATH offers share and support meetings for foster parents and ongoing education for foster families to help you connect and find support and encouragement from others foster families, as well.
Adopting from Foster Care
To adopt in North Dakota, your family would be referred to the Adults Adopting Special Kids Program (AASK). AASK does not have any additional training aside from what families already receive when they become foster parents, but they do require a new home assessment. An AASK worker will come to your home, get to know your family, and answer any questions you may have. This assessment process can take up to 90 days.
Once your home assessment is approved with AASK, they will walk you through the steps to adopt your foster youth! This can take anywhere from 3-6 months, completely dependent upon the particular case.
While having the option to adopt your foster child is common, it is not a guarantee. Our first and foremost goal is reunifying with family, whether that means back with biological parents, placement with grandparents, aunts/uncles, or other relatives. If the court has relinquished parental rights and no family members are able to adopt, foster parents are often given that option. This is completely dependent upon the child’s long-term needs and the team’s specific goals. If you are NOT given the option to adopt the youth in your home, this does not mean that you are a “bad parent” or “not good enough,” it just simply means there is another plan for the child.
You don’t have to be a foster parent in order to adopt. Some families choose to complete an AASK adoption assessment and inquire on kids waiting to be adopted in North Dakota or in other states. North Dakota’s waiting kids can be found at www.aasknd.org or www.ndheartgallery.org.
Once you adopt or are deemed a legal guardian, you can access post-adopt services through the ND Post Adopt Network, a service of the AASK program. Here, you receive guidance through support groups, education, summer camps, crisis case management, referrals, and ongoing information pertinent to parenting children with trauma histories or adoption stories. Specifics on post adopt services can be found at www.ndpostadopt.org.