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So you want to be a foster parent

Are you thinking about becoming a foster parent? You must:

Be at least 21 years old

Have at least two bedrooms in your own home or rented apartment

Complete state-approved criminal and child abuse clearances

Have a way for the placement agency to contact you

Complete a home study

Submit your home lead testing and a fire inspection

Complete a physical examination

Be fingerprinted, along with all members of your household over the age of 18

Submit references

Complete a 30-hour training course, like the one Berkshire Farms is offering from Sept. 12 to Nov. 14 at Liverpool First Presbyterian Church (see story, page 1)

Once those qualifications have been met, you will be certified to be a foster parent. Foster parents receive a monthly stipend, and medical expenses for foster children are covered through Medicaid. Foster children are eligible for child care if foster parents are employed. Foster parents are eligible for reimbursements for special costs depending on the needs of the child, such as sports equipment or school pictures.

As a foster parent, you could then get the chance to adopt the child or children you foster. The primary goal is reunification with the child’s biological family, but it’s not always possible; reunification happens in 53 percent of cases on a national level.

Certification is a three-part process: intake, training and home study. Once those steps are completed, families are certified for both foster care and adoption. When a child or sibling group has been in a foster home for at least 12 months, then the foster family can become an adoptive resource for those children. In Onondaga County, about 75 percent of all adoptions are foster parent adoptions.

There are so many kids out there that need homes – 25,000 are in foster care in New York state right now, 300 in Onondaga County alone. And that number doesn’t include all of the kids waiting to be placed. Think of the difference you could make in a kid’s life if you just open your home.

To open your home and your heart, call Onondaga County DSS at 435-3827 or Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth at 454-4700 ext. 307.

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