Frequently Asked Questions

What is Foster Care?
 Foster care is the temporary placement of children and youth with families outside of their own home due to situations such as child abuse or neglect. The goal is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment.

What is a foster parent?
 A foster parent is a person who cares for children/youth who are not in their custody, children and youth who have entered the foster care system. Foster parenting is an opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life during a time of crisis. Foster parents care about children and are willing and able to provide care and nurturing for the duration of the child's stay in foster care. Foster family care is a temporary arrangement until a child’s permanent plan is achieved, such as return to their own families or adoption. Foster parents are asked to complete an application, submit to home assessments and attend training. Foster families must demonstrate financial and emotional stability, responsibility and a willingness to work with the agency that supervises their home.

What is the first step in becoming a foster parent?
 You are encouraged to be informed.  Watch the required orientation video here.  Gather information about foster parenting, talk to other foster parents, then contact your local social services office to sign up for their next foster parent orientation session. There are a number of ways to get information about orientation schedules:

  1. Contact Carteret County Social Services directly at (252) 728-3181.
  2. Complete this form and we will contact you.

Should you decide that you do not have sufficient room in your home or that you are unable to provide full time care for another child in your home, we encourage you to explore alternative ways to support foster care. 

How do I become a foster parent?
 Foster parent certification follows mandates set by Louisiana law, Bureau of Licensing requirements and agency policy. The following requirements must be fulfilled prior to an individual or couple being certified to provide care for children. Individuals or couples must:

  1. Complete TIPS-MAPP pre-service training.
  2. Be cleared through State Police and FBI criminal records checks. (Applies to all adults living in the home.)
  3. Be cleared through State Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect.
  4. Obtain a physical examination, including a tuberculosis test for all family members if you meet certain circumstances.
  5. Be in agreement not to use Corporal Punishment on any foster child in your care. (i.e. any physical punishment inflicted in any manner on a child ’s body.)
  6. Provide at least 3 references (non-relative).
  7. Allow all members of the family to be interviewed.
  8. Home must meet environmental, health and fire safety requirements.
  9. Have a care plan for each child placed in the home if individual/couple work outside the home.
  10. Participate in an individual home study.
  11. Agree to complete 10 hours of annual in-service training requirements working towards re-licensing.

What are the basic qualifications for becoming a foster parent?

  1. 21 years of age or older
  2. Single, married, or divorced
  3. Have adequate space for a child
  4. Have an income adequate for own family/to be financially stable
  5. Own or rent adequate housing that is not directly beside a body of water
  6. Have adequate transportation
  7. Good physical and mental health
  8. Ability to work as a team with agency social workers, child’s family and other service providers
  9. Ability to understand and support the child’s parents

What are the requirements for becoming a foster parent?
Although foster care regulations vary from state to state, there are some universal requirements:

  1. Age 21 or older
  2. Criminal background check
  3. Family stability
  4. Character references
  5. Regular source of income
  6. Home safety inspection
  7. Family home study/assessment

Will I have to work with the child's parent?
 Yes, you may have to work with the child’s birth parent. The Department of Social Services Foster Parent Program is comprised of a team of persons working together to do what is in the best interest of children. Foster Parents are critical members of that team. The goal for a child placed in the Department of Social Services custody is to achieve safety and permanency as soon as possible, which includes working with the child’s parents towards reunification.

Will I be paid to be a foster parent?
Monthly board payments are made to certified foster parents to reimburse for the cost of caring for a child. Board payments are to help meet the daily needs of the child for shelter, food, clothing, allowance and incidental expenses. These payments are a reimbursement of the child’s expenses and are NOT a payment to the foster parent Board payments are determined by the child’s age. The child’s health and dental needs are covered by Medicaid.

What are the board payment rates?

  1. For ages 0-5: $475  
  2. For ages 6-12: $581
  3. For ages 13-21: $634                                                                                          

Will I get to choose the foster child for my home?
Yes and no. We do not have a list of children waiting for a home. You will work with your licensing social worker to determine what age or gender you best feel fits your home. When a child comes into custody, we will then make phone calls to the families that best meet that child’s needs. We provide as much information about the child as possible and you are free to ask any questions you have. You then are given the chance to accept placement of that child or to let us know you do not feel that this is the right placement for you at that time.

How long will the foster children remain in my home?
 The length of time that a child stays in a foster home varies according to the plans for reunification with their biological family. Children may be in foster care for only a few days up to 12 months or more. The length of stay is influenced by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The goal is to seek a permanent placement for the child as quickly as possible, be it reunification with the birth parents, kinship care, or adoption. If the child cannot be reunited with their biological family, the child will be placed in a permanent home. Placement is for as long as it takes to achieve a permanent placement for the child, whether the plan be for reunification with the child's family, placement with relatives, or adoption.

I am a single person. Can I become a foster parent?
 Yes. Both single persons and married couples are generally accepted as foster parents. 

What type of support do foster parents receive?
 Each family or child is assigned a case manager who is responsible for providing support to each family. Supportive services (respite care, training, crisis lines, etc.) are provided by the licensing agency. Support is also available through state and local associations.

What about medical insurance for foster children?
 Foster children are eligible for Medicaid cards which cover medical, dental and counseling services.

As a foster parent, can I work outside the home?
 Yes.  For families where both parents work full time day-care is provided.

Who pays for the foster child's clothing?
 Foster parents receive a reimbursement which is intended to cover the cost of food and clothing. In addition, each child will receive a $200 clothing stipend 2 times per year.

Do I have to own my own home?

Do foster children have to have their own bedroom?
 In most cases, foster children can share a bedroom with another child of the same sex.  However, each foster child must have their own dresser.

Can I adopt a foster child in my home?
 The first goal is to reunify a child with his/her family. In the event that the child cannot return home or be placed with other relatives, foster parents have first consideration as adoptive parents.

Many families are interested in both fostering and adopting. They agree with the agency that the needs of the child come first. In most cases, this means that they help prepare children for reunification with their birth family or toward a relative or kinship placement. When termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest and adoption is the child’s plan, then foster parents who have cared for the child will be given the opportunity to adopt the child.

Can I take the foster child on vacation with me?
 Yes, with permission of the child's social worker.