Foster Care

The Schenectady County Department of Social Services is looking for qualified foster parents to help take care of some of Schenectady’s most vulnerable children. Currently, there are approximately 300 foster families who are part of Schenectady’s foster parent network. However, more foster parents are needed to provide temporary homes for brothers and sisters being placed together, for babies, and for schoolage children, including teens. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, here are some things you should know.

What is foster care?
Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to live with their birth families.

Who are the children in care?

  • Foster children represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers.
  • When brothers and sisters come into care, we try to place them together.
  • Some children may have handicapping conditions and need special care.
  • Teenage mothers also need homes for themselves and their children.
  • Foster children, like all children, need love affection, and guidance.

What is a foster parent and what do they do?
A foster parent is someone who can provide temporary care and love for children who are unable to live with their birth families. A foster parent should be someone who…

  • wants to make a difference in the life of a child.
  • can make room in their home and heart for children who need temporary care.
  • is flexible and capable of handling stressful situations.
  • can work as a member of a team with case workers and other professionals.
  • can help prepare a child for return to their birth family, to live independently if old enough, or to be adopted.

Who can become a foster parent?
You can apply to become a foster parent if you…

  • are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit.
  • are married, single, or living with a partner.
  • have sufficient income to meet your own family’s needs.
  • are able to provide each child with his/her own bed although children can share a bedroom.

How do I become a foster parent?
To become a foster parent with the Schenectady County Department of Social Services, you will need to ...

  • attend an orientation session.
  • attend our training classes.
  • participate in a home study.
  • complete an application, a child abuse clearance form, be fingerprinted, and complete some other paper work.
  • provide personal references and current medical reports.

What is a home study?
A home study usually consists of a completion of precertification training and a series of interviews between a family and a homefinding case worker to help applicants think through their ability to foster parent a child. It is important that people considering foster care be stable, sensitive, patient, and capable of giving a child love and understanding. The homefinding case workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they foster parent, and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.

Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, however, each child in foster care must have his or her own bed.

Can I afford to do this?
Foster parents receive a monthly care allowance to feed, clothe and meet the material needs of the children placed in their care. Extra compensation is available for special needs children.  All children in foster care are covered by Medicaid.

Can I work and still be a foster parent?
Yes, as long as you provide adequate child care arrangements while you are at work. The Office of Children & Family Services will reimburse your day care expenses on an individual basis for parttime and fulltime employment.

Does my husband/partner have to participate in the group process and the home study?
Yes, because you are both being certified to provide foster care.

Where are the children requiring care?
They may be at home with their families and may be placed immediately; they may be in short-term foster homes, group homes, residential treatment centers, or hospitals.

Can I choose the age, sex, race, and the number of children I want?
Yes. You and your Home finder will work together to determine what types of children will best fit into your home.

What if my foster child gets sick?
Medical and dental coverage is provided through the New York State Medicaid program.

How many foster children can I parent?
You can care for up to 6 children, which include your own children under the age of 13, and no more than 2 children under age 2. You and your Home finder together will determine how many children you will be certified to foster parent.

How do I begin the process?
For more information, or to attend an orientation session, please call 518-388-4456, 518-388-4372 or 518-388-4541



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