Foster’s Home for Children has recently reopened a new program to teach individuals how to become a foster parent.

“We train and license individual families in the communities - the surrounding communities, not just Stephenville - but we do a 50-mile radius and we license families who are interested in becoming foster parents in their home. They stay in the home and take in foster kids,” said David Asbill, chief operating officer at Foster’s Home for Children.

The program was part of one that was shut down many years ago. In September 2017, the program was reopened, but didn’t officially license families until January of 2018.

“That’s what we meant by reopened. It’s a process to get families licensed. That’s when we just started doing the recruitment and the training and it took from September to January to get the first group of families licensed and certified through everything they had to do to become foster parents,” Asbill said.

Asbill said individuals who are interested in becoming foster parents can come to an orientation meeting and they will discuss the process that they will have to go through to become a foster parent.

“We’re just very upfront and honest about the whole process and being licensed by the state. There’s state standards that you have to go through to be able to license families for foster care and so, we in that first meeting just do an overview of the process, to make sure people understand that this isn’t going to happen in a week or two; it’s a couple of months process in order to get all of your training in, get your paperwork filled out and get ready to take foster kids,” Asbill said.

To become a foster parent, an individual must be at least 21 years of age, financially stable and a responsible, mature adult; complete an application; share information regarding their background and lifestyle; provide relative and non-relative references; show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable); agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members; allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household; attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children; and attend and complete all required training courses.

Training requires 40 hours of training, plus online training.

Asbill also said that individuals don’t have to become a foster parent; they can become a respite provider.

“Maybe you babysit for one night and the couple can go out and eat by themselves or if they have to go out of town for a weekend, you can do short-term babysitting in respite care so it’s not just you have to be a full-time foster parent because some people have busy schedules, but there are other avenues to help serve the kids,” he said.

“Our society and culture at this time, there are a large number of percentage rates of kids who are in foster care so it takes a community to heal kids and to give them and their family - not just the kids, sometimes it’s even the family - [that positive interaction and] once they have that positive interaction, [they] see that other people can manage their kids. There’s a positive influence there that kind of turns the whole family’s life around, so it is for the kids, yes, but it also helps meet the need for our whole community.”

For more information visit https://www.fostershome.org/.