Becoming a foster parent is a step in your life that brings a great deal of change but is also sure to bring you happiness and fulfillment. We understand that with this big step comes many questions – especially when you’re newly licensed and ready to begin welcoming youth into your home. This blog will walk you through the process of how foster families are matched with a youth in foster care and what to expect as a newly licensed foster parent.
The process of matching a youth with the right foster family is complex as we want to ensure it’s the best living environment for the youth, as well as a good fit for the family opening their home. There’s no one “right way” for a foster parent to build a connection and make a youth feel comfortable, as each youth and his or her situation is unique. To tackle some of the more complex questions a foster parent may have, we chatted with Becki Schindler, Foster Care Recruitment Coordinator at KVC Nebraska. Becki filled us in on the process of how foster families are matched with a youth in foster care.
You’re Licensed—Here’s What to Expect Next
Once you become a licensed foster parent, you may not receive a call to welcome a youth into your home right away. Placement of a youth is based on need, as well as our matching process. Our Admissions Liaisons receive referrals of youth each day, and they are matched with a home based on the needs, preferences, and interests of both the youth and the foster families.
Over the course of your initial foster parent training and completion of your home study, your trainers and Licensing Specialist get to know your family well. They will know what youth will be the best fit for your family. This information is provided to our Admissions Liaisons who will contact you with a potential youth considered “a good fit” for both your home and the youth. For example, if your family loves being outdoors and spends time camping, hiking, and fishing, we would do our best to not match you with a youth who doesn’t enjoy being active outdoors. Another example would be if a child has medical needs. They would be matched with a home that either has experience providing care to youth with these needs or is willing to learn how to provide care.
You’re a Match—Time for a Decision
Once a youth and your home are identified as being a “good fit,” the Admissions Liaisons will contact you to provide detailed information about the youth. This allows you to make a well-informed decision on whether it’s the right time to welcome a youth into your home and/or if you have the ability to meet the needs of that youth. It’s important that throughout foster parent training and the home study you’re very open and honest with your Licensing Specialist about your interests, preferences, strengths, and level of confidence in meeting the different needs of youth so our team can do the best job possible throughout the matching process.
You Said Yes to Opening Your Home
If you say yes to welcoming a youth into your home, it isn’t guaranteed that they will join your home. The Admissions Liaisons will notify the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)/PromiseShip that KVC has a family interested in caring for the child; however, DHHS/PromiseShip typically work with multiple foster care agencies when placement is needed. All agencies will provide the homes they feel are the “best fit,” and DHHS/PromiseShip will ultimately decide which home the youth will join.
If your home is chosen, a DHHS/PromiseShip representative will bring the youth to your home. It can be a matter of hours or days before the youth is brought to your home, as this depends on where the youth is coming from and the immediacy of the need for a home.
Resources to Determine Your Next Step
For tips about how to make a child feel welcomed and comfortable when they arrive at your home, read our blog “Tips for Foster Parents: Welcoming a Youth into Your Home.”
If you’re interested in exploring how you can add joy and meaning to your life through foster parenting and want to learn more, download our guide, “6 Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent.”