Foster Care

If you have heard too many news stories about abused and neglected children and have wondered, “What can I do to help them?” LCFS can help you become a licensed foster parent. We also provide follow-up training and support as you open your home to one or more children in need of care.

Who can be a foster parent?

Foster parents can be married or single, can live in the city, suburbs or country, can be working or retired. If you are an Illinois resident and can answer yes to all of the following questions, you may be eligible to become an LCFS foster parent:

  • Are you at least 21 years old?
  • Are you willing to submit to a criminal background check?
  • Are you financially able to care for yourself and your own family?
  • Are you in good health?
  • Are you able to meet the demands of children on a 24-hour basis?

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How to become a foster parent

The first step is to attend an informational meeting or schedule an individualized meeting. At that point, if you want to proceed, you will be assigned a licensing representative who will guide you through the process of becoming a foster parent.

The licensing representative will do an initial home visit, one of about four you will have during the licensing process.

You will be asked to take 30 hours of training, which is available for no cost at many state colleges and universities. This training is the most important part of the process, because you will learn about caring for a child who has experienced abuse and neglect. You will also learn how to prepare your own children for the experience and how it will affect your family. By the end, you will feel much more confident in accepting foster children into your home and understanding just what a child may be going through.

Consider becoming an LCFS foster parent

There is always a great need for loving and stable foster homes in Illinois, especially for older children and sibling groups.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, contact us.

 

FAQ

What is foster parenting?

There are times when a child must be separated from his/her birth parents due to abuse, neglect or significant family issues. When this occurs, the child is placed with a foster family. When possible, the child is reunited with his/her biological family. When that is not appropriate, steps are taken to identify a “forever” family for the child.

What kind of children need foster families?

There are many types of children who need foster families. However, LCFS particularly needs families who are interested in parenting:

  • Children with special medical needs
  • Adolescents
  • Sibling groups
  • Adolescents and children with mental-health needs
  • Adolescents who are dually involved with the criminal-justice system

Is a single adult able to be a foster parent?

Yes. If you are 21 or older, in good health and have the resources to support yourself, you are eligible to become a foster parent.

Do you have to be a home owner to be a foster parent?

No, you do not have to own your home; you can be renting an apartment or house. However, you must have adequate space for a child. A foster child may share a room with another child of the same sex. The foster child must have a bed of his or her own. A foster child cannot share a bedroom with an adult.

How do I become a foster parent?

Contact LCFS at 800-363-LCFS (5237) or lcfs_info@lcfs.org to begin the process. A packet of information will be sent to you as well as an invitation to attend an informational meeting. You will need to complete an application, have a medical evaluation completed by your personal physician and participate in a training series. In addition, the law requires that a criminal background check be conducted on all applicants, which means you will be fingerprinted. References will also be checked and an agency employee will be visiting you and your family in your home.

How long does the foster parent licensing process take?

The process to become a licensed foster parent takes from three to six months. Once the process (including your training) is completed, a child may be placed with you.

Does a child visit with his/her birth parents while in foster care?

In most cases, yes. In fact, visits between biological parents and a child are an essential part of the efforts to reunite families. The social worker will talk with you and the child’s birth parents to work out the time and location of these visits.

Are foster parents allowed to adopt a foster child?

Most children in foster care are reunited with their birth families. However, if this is not appropriate for the child who is living in your home, you need to make your social worker aware of your interest in adopting him/her. At that time, you must meet all the requirements for becoming an adoptive parent.

Won’t it be difficult on a foster parent to have a child leave his/her care?

Yes, a child leaving is the most difficult part of being a foster parent. It is only natural that you are sad. However, we will support you through this process.