All About Getting Your Foster License & the Money Question

This week I’ll be sharing about our foster/adoption journey and answering questions that we get asked often along the way. I feel very blessed that fostering has become a huge part of my story – and I am humbled at the questions that I get asked via email and facebook each week.  My hope is that this week you’ll get a peek into our world and see why fostering is so important to me.

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After 2 difficult pregnancies my doctor determined that I was not physically able to carry another child safely to term.  We wanted more children, so we started looking at  international adoption.  We were blown away by the costs involved and the waiting time.  We looked into domestic adoption and that was even more expensive.  To this day I have no idea what prompted me to call The Children’s Home Society of NJ to ask about adoption.  After blurting out my frustration to the poor person who answered the phone she put us in touch with the foster to adopt program, and that’s how we entered fostering.

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The 2 main questions that everyone asks is about money and the licensing piece of fostering.

On Getting a Foster Parent License:

We are duel licensed, which means that we have a license through a private agency {Children’s Home Society of NJ} and a license with the State of New Jersey {DCP&P}.  You do not have to get a dual license – you can go just through the state, or just through a private agency. It’s entirely up to you.  The reason we have a dual license is so that we have an extra *buffer* with the state. Since the private agency is smaller than the state {DCP&P} we have our own case worker, on call nurse and doctor.  It can mean more paperwork, but for us, having a person who is always assigned to us makes it much easier.

We are licensed for medically fragile children, which means that we have taken extra classes and are prepared to deal with infants who have medical issues.  Since both our girls had medical issues as infants, I felt it was important to get the extra certification.  Medically fragile can mean anything from a slight case of reflux to major medical issues.  Every time we receive a referral for a new placement child I always make sure to ask what, if any, medically issues the child has.

You can always refuse a referral – and there are times that you need to.  We have declined 3 referrals, all for children who had medical needs that we could have handled, but in all three cases the medical appointments and the amount of time that we would be transporting them did not work with our family.  Again, having the private agency can help you make a decision on whether the placement is a good fit for your family.

Getting your Foster Parent License can be an intensive process.  Depending on the state in which you live, you will have to go back 10-15 years in your personal history.  All jobs, name changes, relationship changes, children, parents, siblings, friends, pets – you name it and it will have to be documented.  You will be fingerprinted, have to have a criminal background check done, and all DMV records are sent to the state.  In short, they will be looking at pretty much your entire life story.  You will also have to have a Home Study/Inspection done by the state, which means that someone will come into your home, tell you everything that is wrong with it and you have 15 days to fix everything before the process has to start all over again. Sigh.

On Money:

There are fees involved with getting your license.  You have to pay for fingerprints, any DMV records, etc.  CHS reimbursed us for every cost involved, so the licensing process cost us nothing.

When you have a child in placement, you are paid a daily stipend.  Our stipend depends on if the child is from CHS or DCP&P, and if the child is medically fragile or healthy.  Each county has a difference stipend schedule, so it depends on each office.  If you need large items for the child in placement {crib, car seat, high chair, etc} we buy it and expense it to CHS.  Now, it’s important to note that anything you are reimbursed for technically belongs to your agency, so you can’t consign it, sell it or give it away. 

For a long term placement we typically go on the WIC program {Women, Infants and Children} so CHS doesn’t have to reimburse us for the cost of formula or baby food.  Here in NJ the state will not reimburse you for food, so we always ask for a referral for WIC.  It’s an extra step, but with the high cost of formula it’s well worth it.

For clothing/toys/shoes/supplies we get reimbursed from CHS – the state will not reimburse for these purchases either.  CHS usually has a closet full of donations, so I always ask for diapers and clothing there, before I go out and buy anything.  Our case worker is really good about putting aside things that she knows we need.

If you adopt from the Foster Care System the cost is minimal, if any. This is pretty much what sold us on fostering to adopt. We are not guaranteed that we will be able to adopt the children we foster, but our case worker is great about looking for children who may be in the process of being freed for adoption.

If you noticed – our private agency {CHS} reimburses us for pretty much everything, while the state feels that the stipend paid will cover all expenses {it doesn’t}.  For me, this cements the reason that we chose to be dual licensed.

I hope that answered questions about getting a license, why we have a dual license and the money aspect of fostering.  If I missed something, please let me know and I’ll answer it as best I can.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about fostering to adoption – a road that we have been up and down on for the past three years!

Anything specific you would like to know about?

Please visit the TOS CREW by clicking the button below – there are 90 bloggers all sharing something that is near to their hearts this week!

Summer Blog Hop

Comments

  1. It’s interesting to hear the differences in the fostering process. We are an approved foster home through the state of TN. It was a big time commitment up front to complete all the training, paperwork, interviews and home study but worth it. There was no cost to us for attaining records or background checks. We also have to do a set number of continuing education hours each year.

    When we have a child we are paid a daily stipend which is suppose to cover all their expenses but of course if you’re providing good care, it doesn’t. Each child is allowed a one time large clothing purchase on top of the daily stipend. Each child qualifies for WIC and that is super helpful for covering formula and food!!

    We have our own caseworker through the state that we go to if we ever need anything and each child has their caseworker.

    Also, in TN you can’t technically “foster to adopt” since the main goal is family reunification. I think they make that distinction because they want potential foster parents to know that the state is not an adoption agency. But, we (and probably ever other foster family) are praying that one day we’ve ill be able to adopt one of our foster children!!

    Love reading about other families that foster!!

  2. It’s an amazing journey you have undertaken. We are so blessed by the example your family sets that we get to glimpse through your blog. Thank you for sharing! Praying for Baby J AND Baby S!

  3. Jackie Hazlett says:

    I just find it simply amazing all that you had to go through to be licensed to foster when you find stories of people who take advantage of the system. Just amazes me that they are able to get away with awful things when you are monitored so closely. Your experience has been eye opening for me. You and Ken are truly amazing and I hope that you are blessed with an adoption. But in the meantime those babies that you are chosen to foster are so lucky.

  4. We are a foster/adopt home. Although we haven’t done foster care in years because we “have too many kids in the home”. Of all the foster kids we did have, we did adopt a sibling group of four. We had one private placement (got her as a newborn before she had to go to foster care). All the rest of our kids are from the foster care system found on adoption websites. We do get a monthly stipend plus medicaid until they turn 18 (except for the baby since she was considered private adoption not foster adoption and don’t let her know I called her “baby” when she is 10 years old now and a “preteen” lol).

    People think I’m crazy when I tell them that adopting via the foster system is virtually free. We’ve been reimbursed for nearly all of our expenses. Our paperwork has always been done fairly quickly. We’ve been matched really quick as well. After we got our paperwork done the first time, we got 6 kids within 11 months. This last time, we’ll have 9 kids within a year.

    My suggestion for those who struggle adopting from the system….if you find a worker/agency that says you “can’t do that”. Find another one. Those road blocks aren’t necessarily God telling you He doesn’t want you to adopt, but His closed door to go that direction. If He’s called a family to adopt, He’ll bring them to the right agency by closing doors to the other ones.

    Oh and we had three biological kids when the Dr. suggested that I shouldn’t get pregnant again. We decided then and there we’d complete our family by adopting a “couple” more kids. Never in a lifetime would I have guessed that the Lord would send us 15 more kids!!

    I look forward to reading the rest of your week’s hop. I also wrote about adoption on the crew’s blog hop a couple of years ago.

    God’s Blessings

  5. I look forward to reading these posts. I am not sure where our road leads yet.. but having this information will help for sure!

  6. We’re thinking of possibly adopting, and fostering to adopt sounds like a great way to do it. Thanks for the information, and I look forward to reading the rest in this series.

  7. Aurie, I am really, really appreciating all that you’ve written out about your foster/adopt process! Oh, how my heart is there. Praying for God’s will and direction and timing. I’ve got so many questions rumbling in my head. One of which is what kinds of things do they look for in the home study/inspection? Do they look at the size of the home? How many kids you already have?
    Thank you for sharing your journey!
    ~Jessica

    • Here in NJ the number of placements you are allowed goes by square footage. We have a *cozy* house – 2 larger bedrooms and 1 small bedroom. We are licensed for 4 placements – 2 in the small room, 1 in our girls room and 1 in our room. Each child needs to have a dedicated bed, and personal space {closet/drawers/etc} In the home inspection they looked for anything that might be unsafe. Ours wanted everything child proofed, we needed to have the radiators covered, no access to the attic or basement, etc. They tested for lead and asbestos. Does that help? Email me if you want more in depth info – I love to talk about fostering!!

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