Deciding to become a foster or adoptive parent can bring up a lot of questions. There are also a lot of misconceptions about Foster Care and Adoption. We are here to help you navigate the process, dispel untruths, and help you make the decision whether Foster Care or Adoption is right for you and your family.
Q: Why do children end up in the foster care system?
A: There are many reasons a child may enter the foster care system, at no fault of their own.
Children enter the foster care system when it has been determined that their home is not a safe place for them. Some reasons children may be removed from their parents include abuse, neglect, incarceration, or abandonment. A child may also enter the foster care system due to the death of a caregiver. In most cases, a suitable family placement is sought out prior to placing a child in foster care.
Q: How long can children stay in the foster care system?
A: Many factors may contribute to the length of time a child may remain in the foster care system.
Generally, older children or children with specific medical or behavioral needs remain in the foster care system for a longer period of time. According to the most recent Kids Count data, the majority of children in the foster care system who are waiting to be adopted are in the foster care system for one to two years (31%); 25% of children are in the foster care system for two to three years; 18% remain in the foster care system for three to four years; and 17% remain for five or more years. Only 9% exit the foster care system within one year. In South Dakota, children are able to remain in the foster care system until the age of 20.
Q: How much does it cost to become a foster or adoptive parent?
A: There is no cost to you to become a foster parent or to adopt through foster care.
There is no cost to go through the training, background checks, home study, or licensure. There is also no cost to you during the placement process, or in any post-placement therapy, support, or services that we provide. In fact, all of our services are completely free of charge. When you provide foster care for a child, the state pays monthly reimbursements to you to cover the basic needs of the child. In some cases, these monthly reimbursement payments may continue for a child who is adopted through foster care.
Q: Do I have to have a large house or make a lot of money to be qualified to provide foster care?
A: No. You do not need to own a large house or earn a lot of money.
While you do need to be able to support yourself financially aside from monthly foster care reimbursement payments, there is no set income requirement to become a foster or adoptive parent. There are also no standard requirements for the size of your home. Any home-related requirements focus on and pertain to ensuring a safe environment for the child.
Q: How long does it take from starting the process to caring for a child?
A: There are many factors that determine the length of time the training, licensing, and placement process may take.
Generally speaking, you could start providing foster care for a child within six to nine months after starting the process; however, depending on each individual's unique circumstances and placement matching needs, it could take longer to progress.
Q: Will my home become a disruptive cycle of children just passing through?
We recognize the need for a child to experience stability and security. It is the foster care system's goal to have as few placements as possible for any child. Considering these factors, most children will be placed with you for a minimum of six months. Additionally, most homes will care for no more than two children at one time.
Q: I want to adopt through foster care. Once I have begun providing care for a child, how long will it take to finalize the adoption?
A: A minimum of six months is required.
Once you have begun providing foster care for a child, if your intention is to adopt and the child in your care is available for adoption, we require that the child live in your home for a minimum of six months prior to finalizing an adoption. Our focus is on providing permanency for a child, so we ensure that a placement is stable before proceeding with adoption finalization. For this reason, in some cases, adoption finalization may take longer than six months.
Do you still have questions? We'd love to talk with you!