Considering Becoming a Foster and/or Adoptive Parent?
The history of foster care traces back for centuries, with the most notable turning point surrounding “The Orphan Train.” Children from New York City who needed families traveled by train through the west and families volunteered to take them in and give them care. Today, we recruit families in the same neighborhoods or towns that the children need placement from. Foster care can be a temporary respite or a long-term arrangement for children who are at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment. The foster care program in Illinois is managed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). DCFS and other social service agencies work to either reunite the family that has been disrupted or, when that is not a possibility, work to place these children in permanent adoptive homes.
In Illinois there are approximately 16,000 children in foster care. On any given day there are approximately 1,000 legally available for adoption. These children are all ages, stages and ethnicities and the average age of a child available for adoption is eight. The mission of Let It Be us is the adoption and education of children in Illinois foster care.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, or adopting from foster care, consider attending one of our Finding Forever Families events, which recruits foster parents and adoptive parents. See Upcoming Events
Illinois is home to approximately 16,000 children who live in foster care. They are all ages, stages and ethnicities. Some children are alone and some are in sibling groups that we hope remain in tact. Some have special needs that are more serious than others. It’s important to note that these children did nothing to come to this situation. It was their parents who either abandoned, neglected or abused them.
On any given day in Illinois, there are approximately 1,000 children who are legally available for adoption and are waiting. Note that it is free to adopt from foster care and adoption from foster care does not discriminate against age, income, marital status, gender or sexual orientation.
The most common types of placements for children in foster care are with parents and families, but that is not always possible. Approximately 16% of children in foster care live in group homes.
Once you have entered a program with DCFS or a social service agency, you will be assigned to a case worker who will assist you every step of the way. Your case worker will be your point of contact and will work with you to determine the proper placement.
Each child is covered with health insurance and each child receives a stipend for his or her individual care. The stipend is different according to each child’s needs.
The process takes approximately 3 – 6 months. To receive your foster care license you must go through 27 hours of training, each adult in your household must pass a federal background check, and there is a home study which assures that your home or apartment is appropriate for a child.
Some agencies work faster than others. As soon as your process is complete your case worker will begin to explore placements with you.
Parenting from foster care does not discriminate against age, marital status, income or sexual orientation. You must be at least 21 years of age. You can be married, single, divorced, separated, or in a civil union.
Prospective foster parents are required to:
- Participate in a home study (a home inspection and social assessment)
- Complete 27 hours of training focusing on foster care and provided by a licensed social service agency
- Complete a criminal background check of all household members
- Be financially stable
- Complete a health screening with up to date vaccinations
“Openness” is an important part of being a foster parent or an adoptive parent. A large part of a child’s identity comes from his or her family. If that family is a good part of that child’s life then you will need to make an effort for your child to stay connected through visits. Your case worker will work with you on the time and location of these visits. Sometimes it’s a grandparent and/or siblings that desire to stay in touch with a child. Learning about this and becoming comfortable with this is part of your foster care training.
A child in foster care needs his or her own bed and can share a room with other children in the family or other children in foster care of the same sex. A child in foster care may not share a bedroom with an adult. Your case worker will help you decide if your child needs any special sleeping arrangements.
The answer to this question is – both. However, according to our findings, many case workers and adoption recruiters report that 2/3 of the children in foster care never return home. That fact coupled with the reality that through the course of a child’s life in foster care they can live in up to 20 different homes proves that there is a significant need for long-term foster parents.
Note that in Illinois you need to be a foster parent for a child for 6 months before you may adopt that child.
Yes! That’s what Let it Be Us is all about. We have built the strong and innovative bridge between the children who wait and potential foster parents and adoptive parents. Please read through this website for more information and consider attending one of our “Finding Forever Families” programs.
There are approximately 16,000 children in Illinois foster care and on any given day approximately 1,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. The clock is ticking because the longer a child waits in foster care the less likely he or she is to become adopted.
Let it Be Us offers an Educational Mentorship program where participants are trained and paired with a child who needs help with educational goals on a consistent basis. This is an opportunity to have a relationship with a child in foster care and have a direct impact on his or her life.
Learn more about The Educational Mentorship program.
It is free to become a foster parent. And it is free to adopt from foster care. There are no legal expenses. Note that adoption through an agency (either domestic or foreign) can cost between $25,000 – $40,000.
Each child who is adopted through foster care receives a small stipend till the age of 18. And there are many scholarships (many directly from individual colleges) for children who have been adopted through foster care.
A great way to explore this further is to attend one of the Let It Be Us Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment Event. At these events we present a panel of experts – case workers and adoption recruiters – from different agencies. We also have special guest presenters as well as experienced foster and adoptive parents. Each event hosts a panel of different speakers – so the best way to become educated is to attend as many as possible. Let It Be Us offers 6 events throughout the calendar year in and around Chicago.
Another way to explore this further is to find an agency that specializes in foster care and adoption near your home. Make an appointment to attend their next”informational meeting” where you’ll learn about their programs and parenting opportunities.
And stick with it. The art of becoming a parent is not always easy. It’s those who don’t take no for an answer and never give up that find their dreams … and more.
Being a parent is one of the wonderful parts of life. Being a foster parent and/or adopting from foster care can be a part of your life.