Have you ever considered fostering a child but then thought “there is no way I could afford it” or “who would be there to help me” or “daycare would be too expensive?” May is recognized as National Foster Care Month
and to break down the barriers to fostering and recruit loving families, Sacramento County is sharing their five major programs to help meet the needs of resource parents (also known as foster parents) and foster children.
How Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services (DCFAS) is breaking down barriers to recruit loving families for local foster children.
“Research shows that children who spend extended time in group homes can have more negative outcomes later in life,” said Michelle Callejas, Director of Sacramento County DCFAS. “Our County along with other counties in California, are developing a continuum of services, supports and placement options that are the best fit for the children and youth who need placement.”
The Child Care Bridge Program
Introduced January 2018, the Bridge Program
provides eligible resource parents vouchers to pay for childcare. These vouchers help ensure caregivers have support to balance work and home lives and increase the likelihood of a smooth transition for the child. Vouchers are available until the resource parent can find other subsidized child care or are able to pay for childcare themselves.
The Bridge Program is comprised of three components. This includes emergency childcare vouchers for children ages 0-12 for 6 to 12 months; support from a child care navigator who will work with families to find a child care provider, assist with completion of child care applications, and develop a plan for long-term child care; and trauma-informed care training so child care providers can learn strategies for working with children in foster care, many of whom have experienced trauma.
“With more parents working outside the home, the ability to recruit and retain foster parents is becoming more challenging,” said Callejas. “The Bridge Program is vital to helping the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services place more foster children in homes where they will receive high-quality care.”
There are many types of families in the foster care system who are eligible for the Bridge Program: Resource families that have completed the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process; Foster Family Agency-approved or County-approved homes; families who care for foster children in an emergency placement; an approved relative or a non-related extended family member; parenting youth and non-minor dependents; or those who have children placed with them for a compelling reason.
Kinship Support Services Program
If your grandchild, nephew, younger sister, cousin or any type of relative or family friend has been put in foster care, the Kinship Support Services Program is available to provide services and support.
The Kinship Support Services Program
is provided by Lilliput Families and is offered at no cost. Services include in-home support, counseling, support groups, respite resources, advocacy, legal referrals, guardianship workshops, adoption assistance, family activities, play care, mentoring and assistance with basic emergency needs.
Research shows that children that are placed with relatives while in foster care experience fewer placement changes and are less likely to be separated from their siblings. Relative placements are able to maintain community, cultural and family connections, which can decrease trauma and help children to thrive.
Respite and Compensation
When you need a break, respite may be the answer. Respite is a service for fostering families that allows resource parents to take a break and the foster children can spend a day, a few days or a weekend with other foster children. Resource parents can coordinate Respite Care with their social worker. Having this service is key to keeping families energized, empowering them to provide stability and permanency to the children in their care. Respite also provides children the opportunity to build relationships with other children in similar settings, increasing their emotional development and general well-being.
To ensure foster children receive high-quality care, resource parents receive a monthly stipend to cover the costs of caring for a child. The amount depends on the age of the child and the area they live in; those caring for older children with greater food and clothing needs receive a larger stipend. Resource parents who care for infants receive an additional stipend to pay for diapers, formula and other baby items, and those who care for children with special needs are generally eligible for higher monthly payments. A majority of foster children qualify to receive health care under Medi-Cal, so resource parents are not responsible for paying medical, dental and counseling bills.
Have you considered or are already fostering an older teen? To help teens transition to be successful adults, Sacramento County Extended Foster Care has a partnership with iFoster
, a national non-profit that offers a number of services, including a job readiness and placement program specifically for eligible foster youth between the ages of 16 and 24. The employment program provides job readiness training and coaching as well as an online personal assistant that helps teens manage deadlines, application dates and documents. iFoster has developed strong partnerships with local employers so graduates of the program can be placed in competitive, livable wage jobs that can become a career.
Additionally, iFoster hosts an Online Resource Portal with free or discounted resources that include educational, employment, health, recreational and daily living products, services and opportunities.
These are just some of the services Sacramento County and local foster agencies offer to resource parents. There are also a number of pre- and post-placement services for resource parents, including parenting classes, trauma training and counseling services.