FAQ About Threads of Change
Why is an organization like Threads of Change needed? I thought foster parents were paid to take care of kids?
Yes, foster parents typically receive a monthly financial reimbursement for each child placed in their care. The average daily rate is around $20 per day for a child (or around $600 per month). By contrast, the annual average cost to raise a child is $12,980 for a child living in a middle-income family (or $1081 a month). In short, the foster care daily rate helps but it does not cover the cost of raising a child.
Many kinship families do not receive any kind of financial assistance for the children they assume care of.
Placing an additional strain on family budgets is the fact that children typically arrive with very little. Foster parents then need to acquire clothes that fit and are appropriate for the season, toiletries, bedding, underwear, shoes, toys, books, school supplies etc – all at once. This adds up quickly, especially when foster families accept placement of sibling groups.
What is kinship foster care?
When CYS determines that a child neesd to be removed from their family of origin they first seek to place them with a family member or what is called ‘fictive kin’. Kin includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings – anybody traditionally considered ‘extended family. Fictive kin can include a significant family friend, a school teacher, a girl scout leader, a neighbor. It has been demonstrated that children placed with kinship carers have less trauma and display less behavior problems – which makes sense since they are being placed with someone they know.
Do you support kinship foster parents?
Our mission is to serve any child in CYS custody, this includes children in kinship placements. We know that kinship care providers often have the same needs as traditional foster parents – the difference is they had no idea they were about to add a child to their family. While traditional foster parents are waiting for a placements kinship care providers often get a call out of the blue asking if they will parent their Grandchild, Niece etc. Only about 50% of kinship care providers receive any financial support for providing care for these children – there are many times that Threads of Change is the only source of practical support these families have.
If a child is reunified with their birth parents or goes to another foster home, what happens to all of the clothes, toys and books they received through Threads of Change?
It goes with them! Preferably in a suitcase or duffel bag. A child who has already been through so much in life, deserves to have their own possessions and pack them with dignity. We keep a stock of child appropriate luggage which is reserved for children who are transitioning to a new placement – you can learn about the ‘No More Trash Bags’ program here
FAQ about foster care and adoption
So how does this foster parenting thing work? What is the process?
Foster parents are licensed either directly through CYS or through an agency. Foster parents take a series of training classes and have a home study completed.
Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption Network has some great information about the basic requirements and how to get the process started, you can learn more here.
Please note: Threads of Change does not endorse any specific agency or path to foster parenting. We have foster parents who work directly with the county and others who work with private agencies. We welcome and support ALL foster parents regardless of what agency you choose. We will not offer specific recommendations about agencies. The PA Adoption and Foster Care Community on Facebook can be a great resource for getting your questions about agencies, licensing etc. answered. Find them here.
If I become a foster parent do I have to say yes to any child that needs a home?
No! When you complete foster parent training you will be asked to complete a check list – how many kids you feel able to parent, ages, genders, behaviors you feel prepared to handle, special needs you are open to. Many times foster parents get calls for children that are not within these guidelines they set but they always have the choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any particular placement.
I love the idea of foster care but I am scared I would get attached to the kids. Can we only take adoptive placements?
Firstly, if you are doing foster parenting right you will get attached. Children need and deserve attachment from care givers. If you parent a child, for any period of time, and then they move on to a different placement for whatever reason your heart will hurt. We can say this with confidence because most of us had parented foster children that have moved on from our homes for one reason or another. We can also say, with confidence, that it is worth the heart ache. If a child is with you for one night or two years or FOREVER, you have made an impact on them and that chance to make the difference in the life of a child is worth while. We do understand that not everyone wishes to foster with the chance of children not being available for adoption.
If you are fostering with the hope to adopt there are no guarantees but there are ways to increase your chances of adopting children placed in your home. Some children in the foster care system are ‘legally free’ for adoption which means that the birth parents rights have already been terminated and the agency responsible for the child is seeking placement with a pre-adopt family. If a child who is legally free is placed in your home as a pre-adopt placement it is very likely you will finalize their adoption. Some foster parents also choose to be ‘legal risk’ foster parents. This means they only accept placements of children where the county feels there is a high likelihood of the child’s birth parents rights being terminated and the child needing to be adopted. Many of these ‘legal risk’ foster parents go on to adopt the children in their care but some do transition the children in their care to kinship placements or back to their birth home.
Once I take in a foster child, am I pretty much on my own?
No way! It takes a village to raise a child – and foster parents need a really big village. Your caseworker can help you to access services in your area. Connecting with other foster and adoptive parents can be a big help too – there are many on line and in person support groups that can be a great starting place. Many families have connected through Threads and developed friendships as a result. Threads of Change aspires is to “Be the Village” that supports foster parents – we are working to increase the support services we offer to the local foster community in additional to all the practical support we already offer.