Foster care is not something that just happens in the United States. It is a global issue and each country handles the caring of children in need in different ways. We spoke with Collie Crisman, a Foster and Adoptive Family Services staff member, who grew up in the UK and has seen how the foster care system works on two continents.
1. How is the foster care system (including adoption) different in the UK compared to NJ?
One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed between the UK and the US adoptive processes is the presence of private adoption agencies in the US. In the UK, regardless of whether a child is removed by the state, or voluntarily placed for planned adoption at birth, the case will always be handled by either a local agency or a “Voluntary Adoption Agency” (a charity-run, independent agency that specializes in adoption and post-adoptive support).
The number of children entering the foster care system across the country has steadily increased from 396,430 in 2012 to 427,137 in 2015. Most races, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, were victims of this surge, including children of Hispanic or Latin origin.
As of 2015, there were 91,101 Hispanic children in care, up from 83,637 in 2014. In fact, Hispanic children made up 21% of the children in the foster care system across the U.S.
This influx, due in part the nation’s opioid epidemic, has put added stress on the foster care system, especially those foster parents who struggle with English and are not familiar with the system.
That’s why, now, more than ever, non-native English speaking foster parents are looking for support services to help them navigate a complicated system.
Most states have their own agencies to help Hispanic foster care families. In Washington, the nonprofit agency Friends of Youth specializes in helping Hispanic families become licensed. In California, the Latino Family Institute aims at preserving the integrity of Latin American cultures among adoptive families while promoting kinship adoptions. Continue reading
Businesses across the world have been bringing in motivational speakers for years in an effort to inspire and encourage their staff. Speakers, especially those with expertise, can often provide a much needed spark during stagnant times. It’s with this in mind that the foster care community has reached out to its experts – former foster parents and former foster children — to become foster care speakers and talk to those involved or interested in being involved in the foster care system.
The foster care community can seem pretty insular. For an outsider interested in becoming a foster parent, the world of fostering can seem both daunting and impenetrable.
That’s why foster care agencies, both national and statewide, have recruited former and current foster parents, as well as caseworkers, to work as foster care speakers that share their experiences and raise public awareness of the need for foster and adoptive families.
Pairing the new with the experienced in foster parent mentoring programs has many benefits.
In the foster care community, mentors are commonly thought of as adult role models and companions for foster children and teens. However, other types of mentors are also in demand. Seasoned foster parents are increasingly being called upon to become mentors for their less experienced counterparts.
Foster parent mentoring programs are available throughout the United States. The purpose of these programs is twofold: to support and encourage new foster parents and to keep experienced foster parents engaged and active. Continue reading
Facebook is everywhere and has been since it opened to everyone in 2006. You have an account, your mom probably has an account, and the local coffee shop you frequent has an account. It’s a place where people share opinions, pictures and stories with their friends and family. But for prospective and current foster, adoptive and kinship parents, Facebook is much more.
Foster, adoptive and kinship parents across the country face a unique set of challenges that most of the general public wouldn’t understand. Whether it’s the complicated licensing process, the myriad of policy issues or the foster care placement procedure, foster parents are confronted with an intricate government system that often varies state by state.
While helpful resources are available, many prospective and current foster parents are turning to each other on Facebook for guidance, understanding and acceptance through their fostering journey. Nationally, foster parents turn to the Facebook pages of organizations like The National Foster Parent Association for information on foster care specific topics such as aging out and multigenerational care. This page, like many other organizational Facebook pages, is a place where previously published information is gathered from across the internet and published in one convenient place. Continue reading
How do I become a foster parent? Am I eligible to adopt? Who do I speak to about board payments? These are just a few questions that are asked throughout the country when it comes to opening your heart and home to foster children. Depending on the state where you reside, answers vary. There are, however, some similarities nationwide. If you live in New Jersey and want information on how to become a foster or adoptive parent or need access to resources for your foster family, Foster and Adoptive Family Services’ (FAFS) Information Line is the place to call.
FAFS’ Information Line: Licensing Process
According to AdoptUsKids, if you are preparing to foster you must provide letters of reference, complete background checks, meet the age minimum requirement in your state and verify that your income covers your expenses.
Each state requires you to complete pre-service training and fill out a home study application to proceed with the process of opening your home. For in-depth information on the process of becoming a foster or adoptive parent, visit the AdoptUsKids website. Continue reading