Foster Care

Help children who have experienced trauma … feel safe, build a future and return to family.
Help a child and family heal … be a foster parent.

Every child needs and deserves to grow up safe and protected from abuse and neglect. Caring foster parents offer children unconditional love and take on the difficulties, the responsibilities and the joys that would be expected of any parent. They provide care and support when they most need it and help them with emotional and behavioral issues that result from the traumas they’ve experienced.

The majority of children who enter foster care are able to return to their birth parents. Foster parents play a significant and meaningful role in making this happen. A couple ways that foster parents support this process includes, hosting visits with the birth parents in their home and attending school conferences and special events together. It is important that foster children never feel torn between the two sides. Everyone should act as one and in the best interests of the children.

LCFS can help you become a licensed foster parent and provide support as you open your heart to children in need of a safe, loving home. We stand alongside our foster parents to ensure they have the resources and support they need to care for the children temporarily placed in their homes.

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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. LCFS is searching for welcoming homes and loving caregivers regardless of age, race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender-identification or education level.

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?
  • Are you passionate about making a difference in a child’s life?

What kinds of children need foster families?

There are many types of children who need foster families. However, LCFS particularly needs families who are willing and able to provide caring, welcoming homes to:

Foster mom and girl

How to become a foster parent

Step 1: Contact LCFS

  • Call or email a LCFS office site and express interest in being a foster parent
  • Attend either a local informational meeting or schedule an individualized one-on-one meeting to learn more

Step 2: Initial Home Visit

  • A LCFS licensing representative will visit you in your home
  • The licensing representative will meet with you and your family 3 to 4 times during the process

Step 3: Complete Application Paperwork

  • This step includes fingerprinting for all adults in the home age 18 and over
  • All individuals in the home must also receive a physical examination by a doctor

Step 4: Attend PRIDE Training

  • All prospective foster parents must complete 39 total hours of PRIDE training
  • PRIDE classes are available at no cost
  • 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.
  • Visit www.dcfstraining.org for a list of available trainings and dates

Step 5: Complete Licensing Assessment

  • Your LCFS licensing representative will meet with you to determine your capabilities as foster parents to provide care to a child(ren) prior to licensure

Step 6: Final Walkthrough of Home

  • Your LCFS licensing representative will conduct a final walkthrough of your home to confirm it meets all requirements for licensure

Step 7: Congratulations – License Issued

  • You are then added to the list of available foster homes for a placement

Consider becoming an LCFS foster parent

Being a foster parent may be challenging, but the rewards are enormous. If you come with optimism and realistic expectations, LCFS will support you with a team that guides you through the process of becoming a foster parent and assists you in making a difference in the life of a child.

To learn more or start the process of 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 birth family. When that is not appropriate, steps are taken to identify a “forever” family for the child.

What kinds of children need foster families?

There are many types of children who need foster families. However, LCFS particularly needs families who are willing and able to provide caring, welcoming homes to:

  • Adolescents
  • Sibling groups
  • Children with special medical needs (Specialized Foster Care)
  • Adolescents and children with mental-health and behavioral needs (Specialized Foster Care)
  • Youth identifying as LGBTQ
  • Youth who are dually-involved with the criminal-justice system (Regenerations)

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 homeowner 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 or schedule an individualized one-on-one meeting to learn more. 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 birth 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. Foster parents may be involved in visits by transporting children to and from visits, supervising visits and possibly hosting visits in their homes. There is nothing like giving a child a second chance or working with a birth parent to overcome his/her personal barriers and become a better parent.

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, the hardest part of being a foster parent is loving a child as your own, while still supporting his/her birth family and a possible return home. However, we will support you through this process. Also, LCFS strives to make life-long connections for the children in our care, so in some cases a relationship may continue after the children return home.