Frequently Asked Question
- What happens after I fill out an interest form?
- What can you tell me about the youth placed in your program?
- How do I tell if I am qualified? What kind of specific requirements do I need to meet, as a person/family and with my home?
- How long does the foster family selection process take?
- Can you tell me about the stipend that foster parents receive? Will it be less than what the county stipend is because the youth is in my home less days per month?
- How do I talk to my other children about my interests/decisions?
- What if I am interested but my spouse/partner is on the fence?
- If I am seriously considering becoming a foster parent, how much money should I set or budget for a new child? Do you provide their school supplies? Do I provide their clothes? How does that work?
- What if I am already a resource/foster parent or have a youth placed with me that would be appropriate for your program?
- Who do I call if I am having a challenge with my foster child and I don’t feel equipped to handle it myself?
- Does birth order matter in fostering like it does in adopting? Should I only consider if my kids are older than the youth I might be placed with?
1. What happens after I fill an interest form?
Within 24 hours of filling out an interest form, a staff member of Youth Connected Program will contact you to share more information, answer your questions, and provide information for one of our orientation sessions.
From the first point of contact, if an individual is interested, they are invited to complete an application and attend an orientation session. The YCP Recruiter will schedule in home meetings to review the homes space and safety as well as interview the family for a report that helps with developing skills and the matching process. The family members over 18 will also complete a background check and medical exam, cost of which is covered by YCP. Each adult will take part in 12 hours of training over 6 weeks to gain knowledge of various issues related to foster youth and being a foster parent.
2. What can you tell me about the youth placed in your program?
Youth referred to our program have open dependency cases with Orange County or one of the surrounding counties. This means they are considered “in foster care”. The youth are referred by their county social worker. Youth coming to our program are between 7th and 12th grades and will attend Samueli Academy or be a sibling of a youth eligible to attend Samueli Academy. These youth have typically experienced some degree of abuse or neglect in their biological home and are either working to reunify with their family or gain independence. We work with these youth, their treatment team (usually composed of their county social worker, YCP social worker, resource or foster family, biological family, therapist and support staff) to develop goals and provide services to achieve these goals while in foster care.
3. How do I tell if I am qualified? What kind of specific requirements do I need to meet, as a person/family and with my home?
We encourage anyone who feels that they have the qualities to become a good resource parent to contact us. Individuals or couples, married or unmarried, are welcome to inquire about becoming resource parents. We welcome same-sex couples as well. Prospective resource parents can rent or own their homes or apartments. To qualify for being a resource parent, one must be over the age of 21, have a legal independent source of income, have appropriate space in their home, be able to provide transportation and be able to pass a background and medical screen. All individuals in the home over 18 must be able to pass the background and medical screens.
4. How long does the foster family selection process take?
o We strive to complete each family’s review, training, and the required paperwork process in 45-60 days. Upon completion of these aspects, we submit the request for approval to the county for final authorization. The county has outlined their timeframe for approval to be done no later than 60 days from the start of the process. Upon approval of the county, a family can then begin fostering. Our matching process is designed so that we use each family’s strengths and skills to support specific needs of a youth. Because we focus on making the best match possible, a family may not have a youth placed with them immediately.
5. Can you tell me about the stipend that foster parents receive? Will it be less than what the county stipend is because the youth is in my home less days per month?
The county pays a flat stipend for each month regardless of the number of days the youth is in your home. The stipend rate is based on age and level of care. Because we provide more services than the county does both in home and in our dorm, we are able to provide a higher stipend for foster/resource parents. When averaged, our stipend is higher than the county rate even though the youth may be in your home less days per month.
6. How do I talk to my other children about my interests/decision?
The first step to talking with your other children is to make sure that you fully explain what foster care means. Helping your other children learn about foster care, in terms they can understand, will allow them to ask questions and learn more about what motivates you to be interested in fostering. It is important to help your child understand that a foster youth does not replace them in your home nor does it replace your feeling for them. Discussions about your interest are also good times to share the realities of foster care. Helping your child, at their own developmental level, understand different behavior they may witness and learning more about trauma can make transitions easier. Allowing your children to be a part of the process from beginning to end is a good way to help them understand more about why you chose to follow this path.
7. What if I am interested but my spouse/partner is on the fence?
Similar to talking to your own children about your interest, having discussions with your spouse about why you feel this calling and each of your own understandings about what being resource parents entails is very important. It is imperative to be on the same team in regards to fostering a youth. Asking your spouse to attend an orientation session and having discussions with the recruiter afterwards where your spouse can ask more questions is a good start.
8. If I am seriously considering becoming a foster parent, how much money should I set or budget for a new child? Do you provide their school supplies? Do I provide their clothes? How does this work?
Each resource parent is paid a stipend to help offset the cost of adding a member to their home. This stipend is not income but rather meant to support the youth’s needs in the home and supplement the cost of food, utilities, transportation and other every day costs. During the approval process, your home will be assessed for safety and to ensure that the youth has the basic necessities in their living space such as a bed and dresser. These items are examples of up-front costs of becoming a resource parent. As stipends are paid at the end of the month rather than at placement, a resource parent should be prepared for the additional costs of food, toiletries and utilities. Youth are provided a clothing and personal allowance for activities or things they want.
9. What if I am already a resource/foster parent or have a youth placed with me that would be appropriate for your program?
We are happy to coordinate a family approval “port” from one agency to ours. This simply means that instead of going through the whole process again, a family can request that their file be moved to our agency from the county or other agency. The process is fairly easy and can be done in less time than a full approval. If you already have a youth placed with you, please contact your youth’s social worker and they can begin the process of working with our staff to transition the youth’s case to Youth Connected Program along with your foster/resource family approval.
10. Who do I call if I am having a challenge with my foster child and I don’t feel equipped to handle it myself?
Resource parents have access to on call social workers 24/7 to help with issues or crisis in the home. Social workers are trained to help a resource parent walk through situations or be present on site if needed. Resource parents are also provided with a list of possible scenarios and guidance of who to contact when. In addition, resource parents are matched with other resource parents through our Connected Caregivers program for support that only other caregivers know how to give and can lean on their mentors as well.
11. Does birth order matter in fostering like it does in adopting? Should I only consider this if my kids are older than the youth I might be placed with?
Much like the dynamics of biological family birth order, birth order in foster care matters as well. Although it is up to each family’s preference, birth order can be taken into consideration when agreeing to foster a youth. Because the traits of being the youngest, middle or oldest do not change when a youth leaves their biological family for foster care, it may be important to incorporate a youth into your home in the same order. An oldest child will not automatically drop the traits they exhibited as oldest child just because they are now the youngest child. This may contribute to challenges and power struggles in your home. In addition, adding youth to your home with your own children creates different dynamics so taking into consideration their feelings and birth order traits is important as well. Although birth order is something to consider in fostering, other factors such as gender, trauma history, and development play a role in family dynamics as well. If you choose to foster out of birth order, remember to communicate with your biological as well as foster youth and allow them to appropriately express their views and ask questions about their roles in the family.