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Arkansas Department
of Human Services
Division of Children and Family Services

 


Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions
 

 
 
 
Why are children placed in foster homes?

The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is committed to child protection and family preservation. Every child is entitled to grow up in a permanent family. The primary and preferred way of achieving this goal is to provide families experiencing turmoil with services to prevent the need to place children outside their homes. The Division recognizes that there are a limited number of situations when children can not safely remain at home and must be separated from their own home.  When a child must be separated from the family, DCFS will provide a healthy and safe environment and will make appropriate and timely efforts to provide services to reunite the family. DCFS will provide appropriate homes for children who can not be reunited with their families.

Family foster care is a program designed to provide a substitute family life experience. The purpose is to provide a health home and community experience for the child while the conditions which caused the placement away from he birth/legal family are being resolved. Foster care is intended to be temporary. Children are placed in foster homes because they have been removed from their own families due to abuse, neglect, or other family problems that endanger their safety. The children may range from infancy through 18 years of age, and may have special medical, physical, or emotional needs. The children may belong to any ethnicity or race and be a part of a group of brothers and sisters who need to be placed together.

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Foster parenting is a serious commitment. It requires giving the gift of unconditional love to children and youth who may never have experienced love of any kind and who may not know how to accept it. It also requires the foster parent to be able to bond and attach to children quickly, but still be able to separate from those children when they are returned to their birth/legal family or moved to a more permanent family situation. Foster parents are selected from applicants: (1) who are single or married, or divorced or widowed for at least one year, (2) who range in age from 21 to 65, (3) who maintain standards acceptable to DCFS, and (4) who pass safety, health and background checks.
 
 
The process of recruiting, training, and evaluating a prospective foster family and that family’s home is called a Family Foster Home Assessment. An assessment is conducted prior to the placement of a child in the home. The purpose of the Family Foster Home Assessment
is threefold:
• to educate the prospective foster parents,
• to assess the family’s character, suitability, and qualifications, and
• to determine if the physical environment meets the standards for approval of a Family
Foster Home.
 
DCFS recognizes the child's right to be placed in a home able to deal with the special problems and traumas of out-of-home care. Foster parenting is a specialized field different from parenting your own children and for which specialized training is essential. As foster parenting is far too complex to be covered in one course, DCFS will provide opportunities for training to prospective family foster parents and training related to the special needs of children in out-of-home placements.
 
 
• Provides a nurturing family life experience to the child including guidance, stimulation, affection and appropriate discipline.

• Assists the child and DCFS in planning and achieving the child's return to his birth/legal parents' home or to a permanent placement.

• Prepares the child for enrollment and regular school attendance when age
appropriate in an accredited school and to encourage the expression of the
child strengths and talents.

• Maintains open communication with all team members; and, this includes
communication with the child's birth/legal family when contact with the birth family is part of the case plan.

• Transports the child to doctor visits, court, and family visits.

• Trains and teaches each child using techniques that stress praise,
encouragement and help children learn life skills.


Basic Requirements for Foster Family

Some of the general requirements for becoming a Foster and/or Adoptive Family include, but are not limited to:

Age -

• Foster care applicants must be at least 21 years of age and not older than 65 years of age.
• For adoptive applicants, at least a 10-year age difference and no more than a 45-year age difference between the child and
adoptive applicant is preferred.

Parenting Arrangement -

• Two-parent homes may apply and must demonstrate a stable relationship.
• A single person may apply.

Health Status -

• Members of the household must not have a health condition or disability that would interfere with the family’s ability to parent the child.
• Members of the household must complete a physical examination and a TB test.

Housing -

• Space must be adequate to promote health and safety. Each bedroom should have at least 50 square feet of space per occupant.
• All firearms must be maintained in a secure, locked location and stored separately from ammunition.
• All water hazards and dangerous pets will be assessed. Safeguard measures will be implemented, as appropriate.
• Children of opposite sexes will have their own separate bedrooms if either child is four years old or older, except for a mother
in foster care with her child(ren).
• Water must be provided by public water system or approved by the Department of Health.

Resources -

• The applicant must have sufficient resources to meet the financial, medical, physical, educational, emotional, and shelter needs of
the child without relying solely on state or federal financial assistance to meet those needs.

Background Checks -

• All members of the household age 10 years and older must be cleared through the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry.
• All members of the household age 18 years and older must be cleared through the Arkansas Adult Maltreatment Central Registry,
a State Police Criminal Record Check, and a fingerprint-based FBI Criminal Background Check.
• Heads of household must certify in writing that no household members ages 10-17 possess a criminal record.

Other Requirements -

• Applicants must complete CPR and Standard First Aid certification.
• Applicants must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.
• Applicants must meet all
Minimum Licensing Standards and DCFS Policy requirements.

 

 

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