Learn about the Illinois Foster Care System through Let It Be Us
Educating yourself is the first step toward bringing a child (or children!) into your home from foster care
To be a foster parent, you must first be licensed by the State of Illinois and while it is free, the process of becoming a foster parent can be time-consuming and requires persistence. On average, it can take at least six months to complete the steps necessary to become licensed to foster—including from submitting an application, undergoing a home study, and attending training.
While some of the steps may seem overly involved or invasive, it is important to keep in mind that everyone is working toward the same goal—ensuring the safety and well-being of children.
Let It Be Us is a great place to start your journey to becoming a foster (and maybe adoptive!) parent in Illinois. Our Foster Care 101 webinar series, along with unique webinars like Foster Ready to Adopt, answer your questions about the process of becoming a licensed foster parent in Illinois. The information we provide will not only guide you on your journey to becoming a foster or adoptive parent, but you will also learn from seasoned foster parents and hear about waiting children in Illinois.
Many families tell us that one of the best sources of information about being a foster parent is other families. Our events and webinars feature seasoned foster parents who can tell you what it is like to foster a child and answer your questions.
Finding the right foster care agency
To get started or find out more about getting your foster care license in Illinois, you can join our free coaching program where experienced child welfare professionals answer your questions in a flexible, 1:1 format.
There are different types of agencies you’ll encounter on your journey to becoming a foster or adoptive parent. To guide you on your journey, we’ve listed some definitions here.
- Illinois’ Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for all children in the foster care system in Illinois. It is a public agency and its services are free. DCFS also subcontracts with agencies throughout Illinois that provide free foster home licensing services to prospective foster parents. To learn more about the different agencies in Illinois and which agencies might be right for you, Let It Be Us expert coaches can help!
- While some children in foster care are adopted by non-biological families, adoption is rarely the first goal when a child comes into foster care. Many children in Illinois foster care, however, are eventually adopted into a new family. If you are interested in adopting a child or children from foster care in Illinois, you should watch our Foster Ready to Adopt webinar.
- Private adoption occurs outside of the foster care system when the birth parents voluntarily place their child for adoption and choose the adoptive parents for their child. Private adoptions are guided by adoption agencies and are often costly. Their services may include helping you complete a home study, providing training, helping you find and secure a placement, and identifying or providing support services after adoption. They usually charge for these services upfront.
Attend a Let It Be Us event
Sign up for a Let It Be Us event or webinar to learn more about:
- Children in foster care
- Roles and responsibilities of adoptive and foster parents
- The process you will need to go through to become a foster home
- Next steps to take on the journey to becoming a foster parent
During the webinars, you may hear for the first time the real challenges involved with being a foster parent and adopting a child from foster care. It’s natural to become conflicted as your emotions rise to the surface. You don’t have to make any major decisions at this point. The only thing you need to do is decide whether you want to continue to explore becoming a foster parent.