Becoming a Foster Parent in Montana
The Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services is responsible for providing protective services to children. Foster care is one such service.
Who Are the Children
The children who are placed in foster care by CFSD range in age from infants to teenagers. They come from many different backgrounds and reflect the cultural diversity of the state. On June 30, 2010, 1,638 Montana children were in foster care because they had been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or other caretakers.
Many of the children in foster care are insecure, frightened, confused, and angry about what has happened to them. Emotional, behavioral, mental, or physical problems related to the abuse or neglect are common.
Who Can Be a Foster Parent
Anyone who is at least 18 years of age and in good physical and mental health may apply to become a foster parent. Single people, couples, people with or without children, all may be eligible. What is most important is the ability to provide an environment that protects and promotes the well-being of a child or children.
Some important characteristics of foster parents are strong parenting skills (or the ability and willingness to develop these skills), time and energy to invest in a child's life, and a genuine concern for the well-being of children and their families.
Applicants also must:
- Have lived together for at least 24 months in the case of couples.
- Have enough income to support their current household without relying on foster-care reimbursement.
- Complete an orientation and pre-service training program prior to licensure.
- Provide references that can attest to their appropriateness to provide foster care for children.
- Undergo screening for criminal records and child protective service records.
- Undergo an assessment of their stability and their home's safety.
What Is Expected of Foster Parents
Foster parents are expected to provide for the physical and emotional needs of children placed in their home and provide a safe and stable home environment. Foster parents are expected to work closely with the child's protective services specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. We don't have any experience as parents. Can we still become foster parents?
A. While experience as parents is an asset, all we ask is your willingness and abilities to develop the skills necessary to meet the needs of children who need foster care.
Q. Are foster parents paid to care for children placed in their homes?
A. No. Foster parents do receive "reimbursement" to offset some of the costs of a child's room, board, clothing, and related expenses. Children's medical expenses are also covered, most often by Medicaid. In some situations, addition financial assistance is available to meet a specific child's needs.
Q. How long do children remain in foster care?
A. The length of time a child remains in foster care can range from overnight to months and, in some cases, years. The time in foster care depends on how soon a child can safely be reunited with his or her family or, if that isn't possible, how soon a permanent placement can be made.
Q. Our income is quite modest. Would that prevent us from becoming foster parents?
A. There are no income requirements to become a foster parent other than the ability to demonstrate that you can support your current family on your income.
Q. We do not own our home. Can we still become foster parents?
A. Yes. Home ownership is not a requirement to become a foster parent. The home you live in must meet the health and safety requirements for licensure.
To learn more about becoming a licensed foster parent, please call 1-866-936-7837 (866-9FOSTER) or Contact us online by filling out this form.