10 Things you need to know about getting Foster Licensed

We need to have a serious talk. It’s going to be one of the most serious talks you will have in your life. It will welcome you to a club which includes a lifetime membership.

Go grab a nice cold refreshing glass of iced water and come back.  This talk is going to take some time.

Are you ready now? Did you go grab a snack while you are at it?

Are you scared? Are you confused? Not sure what my talk is about? Well, let’s not beat around the bush any longer and allow me to answer this for you, I’m talking about getting licensed.  Not getting a driver’s license. Not getting a medical license. I’m speaking about getting you and your home licensed for foster care.

Does it bring up thoughts from movies of foster kids living in group homes that are licensed?

Unfortunately hearing these two words conjuring up some stereotypes that are very misleading, not to mention disheartening. There are some very good movies or tv shows of course, but typically we see on the news horror stories, or in the newspaper (online of course) of terrible things that have happened to children with foster parents. BUT we never talk about the thousands upon thousands of good ones, isn’t that usually the case? Well, that’s a rabbit trail for another time.
I took in my niece and nephew when they were 3rd & 4th grade, so they were not babies anymore – as in diapers, bottles, naps, etc. In fact, they were quite active and curious and lots of fun most days.

Well, I knew they were in foster care – obviously, and with foster care you have a case manager. Typically there has been two by the time of placement. The initial case manager and then the ‘permanent’ case manager (I say this because high turnover, so you may have multiple like I did). When you get your placement, you have already successfully passed the background test, the employment check and the medical/psychological testing. Took maybe about 2 weeks I think. I don’t really remember to be honest, was such a whirlwind with a plethora of information coming in.  But I thought what I had done was my license.

I was setup to get a reimbursement from the state of approximately $9.00 a month per child. Yes, that’s right. $9.00 a month per child.  So that was around $18.00 per month for each child.

Now, I did not take the kids in for money.  

As I stated, I did not take the kids in for money; they are my family: my niece and nephew.

I was financially secure already and was verified by the state I could pay my bills and support myself. HOWEVER, I’m not sure if any of you – but it cost more than $9.00 each month to eat.

What about shampoo and conditioner and body wash? Toiletries of any kind (toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc), clothes, school supplies, food, shoes, hair cuts, hair products, hair ties – I think you are getting the picture here. AND I haven’t even named furniture like a bed, or sheets, or a pillow, etc. How far do you think $9.00 will go? Yes, you are subsidizing this and being reimbursed $9.00 a month. HOWEVER – you do get a one time stipend to assist with clothing, furniture, etc of approximately $75.00 per year per child.

No matter how much love comes into the equation an investment is required.

Even so, I kept the kids and scraped together money to buy what was not donated to me by family and friends.

The kids are very active – as I mentioned earlier, so my nephew joined recreational soccer and my niece wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what. So, we decided to try cheer.

The cheer experience wasn’t as great as my niece had hoped, nor was it very friendly on the parent side. BUT it is the most memorable night of my new life: it is where I met Wanda*. The cheer mom’s where not so helpful when it came to nearly everything, and I was at my wits end with people with no compassion. Once they noticed how frustrated I truly was – only after mentioning that I’m caring for my niece and nephew – I was a first time ‘parent’ and how am I to learn without someone giving me some information. Anything!  They said I needed to meet Wanda and her daughters attended cheer and so she was around the practice area. Another mom went and got her to meet. Well within minutes I found out that Wanda was working at the largest, oldest Children’s Association of Arizona!

Such a coincidence!

She was SO nice.

SO informative.

SO helpful!

She mentioned she had fostered and adopted her relatives as well. She knew exactly what I was going through and asked me the golden question: if I was foster licensed. Of course, I really thought I was – so i said yes. So she asked who I was licensed through – I didn’t have an answer except through the state of Arizona. That alone told her that no – I wasn’t licensed and how in the dark I really was.

She said she not only did she work there – she was the Director. She in about 5 minutes told me to get licensed immediately and the agency she was working for was starting an expedited class that Saturday. Mind you this was probably Tuesday or Wednesday. She took my phone number down and promised to send over the intake counselor immediately and I had missed out the informational/fingerprint/application night the Monday. So I had some catching up to do.

This was such a rollercoaster for me – not just of emotions, but of paperwork and childcare etc!

Well, as promised Wanda setup the meeting for the intake specialist. Which basically is finding out why I want to get licensed. It was expedited as the children were already in my care.

Saturday was all day – it’s 2-3 weeks of sessions rolled into one day. They had childcare available. It was long. It was soo informative. The class was full, but as a single they squeezed me in anyhow. I’m so thankful!

I have to say that I know that every single minute of that crazy stressed out time was so worth it.

Being licensed opens up an entire world of support for you; Support you had no idea you needed to know.

Basic 10 things you will get being Foster Licensed:

  1. You will get a fingerprint clearance card – this will go very far. If you want to volunteer at your children’s school for more than 30 minutes – you need to get fingerprinted. Anything over 30 minutes for your child with other children needs to have a fingerprint clearance card.
  2. You will get CPR/First aid certified.
  3. You will create an Emergency Plan
  4. You will get certified to dispense Medicine.
  5. You will get your home inspected by the City – including a working fire extinguisher.
  6. You will get a much better reimbursement – up to about $30/day per child! Not including your clothing stipends, school supply stipends that they ensure you remind your case manager to request and approve!
  7. You will get a much more personalized visit and help.
  8. You will get many resources: clothing help for foster kids, monetary scholarships to assist your foster kids in extra curricular activities, invites to carnivals, fun runs, picnics, activities for foster families to connect with each other.
  9. You will get State License for your home.
  10. You will get an advocate for YOU!

So what do YOU need to do?

  1. Research your agencies in your area: foster licenseing agencies in ___ (city name).
  2. Go to informational nights if you want more information
  3. Apply
  4. You will need your birth certificate, passport, etc for your fingerprint clearance card application as well as proof of residence.
  5. Proof of Income
  6. Any one over the age of 18 must also get licensed that is living in your home. This includes any biological children over the age of 18 and your partner/legal spouse.
  7. My agency is one of the few that also allowed same-sex couples -and singles – you will need to check for this if it applies to you because not all agencies allow this.
  8. Attend every. Single. Class. There are no make-up sessions unless you get special permission prior to the course attending.
  9. No excuses. Did you see the benefits you get (look above again)? They provide childcare!

I know this process at the beginning feels like you cannot do it. That you cannot get through the day.

But this is the exact reason WHY you should do it. They will make sure you are successful. YOu will build relationships and friendships that will help you. You will get immediate support the moment you introduce yourself into the class.

Don’t delay – get licensed!

Foster License
My actual Foster license!

If you are getting licensed or went through the process – please share with me! I would love to know and hear about your experience. Let me know if your process varied from mine.

A heard of hugs to you!

PS – If there is ANYTHING you need help with – email me: melissa@therabbittrailsoflife.com or comment below. I am here for you. Literally. Do not be shy or embarrassed.

These resources are to be for you. If you can benefit, so can others.

*Name has been changed as have no contact now with individual to attain permission.