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Foster parent training is available

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex Department of Social Services is looking for good local homes for foster children.

Foster care is the temporary substitute care of a child who has been placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services until that child can return to his or her family or be placed for adoption.

A child being placed in foster care does not necessarily lead to the adoption of this child.

Prospective foster parents must complete a foster parent training course given by the Department of Social Services, submit a current DMV driving record, complete tuberculosis screening, complete an autobiographical sketch, and give permission for a child abuse background check.

Prospective foster parents also must provide verification of their sources of income, allow a criminal record check at local, state and federal levels (including finger printing), and provide references from a doctor to ensure that all household members are free from all communicable diseases and the parents are in good health.

Also, there must be a confidentiality agreement, positive reference letters, and a safe home environment with no previous record of child abuse or neglect.

Social services guidelines state that the basic characteristics necessary to be a good foster parent are stability, maturity, commitment, dependability, flexibility, sense of humor, and enjoyment of children.

A good foster parent is an advocate for children, and a team player willing to work with social workers, birth parents, and community services.

Each local Department of Social Services handles foster care training programs differently, but the programs usually takes between four and ten sessions to complete. The sessions are designed to prepare a person for fostering; create a basis for teamwork between a person and the agency; challenge a person to grow and develop as a resources parent; and help a person decide whether he or she wants to become a foster parent.

There is financial assistance for foster parents to help offset the cost of caring for a foster child.  In Middlesex, the amount is around $600 a month per child.

Those interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent should contact the Middlesex County Social Services at 758-2348.

posted 04.29.2009

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