Children in need of foster care are often there through no fault of their own. The more fosters available, the easier it is to keep them in the same school district, or keep sibling groups together.
Becoming a foster parent may seem daunting in many ways, but it’s a vital role in our community. We broke down the process and requirements to hopefully inspire parents and caregivers around the Black Hills to open their hearts and their homes to local children in need.
There are five basic requirements for every potential foster family:
- Foster parents must be over the age of 21.
- Foster parents are screened for past criminal activity. A prior criminal record is not automatically disqualifying; convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure safety of children in the family’s care.
- Families must have proof of sufficient income to support the essential needs of their family. Fosters will receive financial assistance to support the children in their care.
- Foster homes must be safe and free from any hazards.
- Foster parents must complete a 30-hour education and training program. There are additional requirements for those wanting to become foster parents for children with special medical, physical, emotional, or social needs.
Licensed foster parents have a team of professionals who will help them every step of the way. They can assist with reimbursement for approved expenses, peer support groups, and training and education for parents.
There are many misconceptions surrounding foster care that may discourage people from applying. From out-of-pocket expenses to eligibility criteria, here are some facts about foster care that you might not know:
- Foster parents do not need to be married, have children, or be young. Anyone over the age of 21 is eligible to be a foster parent.
- Children in foster care can share rooms with other children, either your own or others in foster care. Children over the age of 6 can only share rooms with those of the same gender. Each child needs their own bed.
- Foster families must be able to support themselves financially, but do not have to make a certain amount of money to be approved.
- Foster parents don’t need to own their home to be approved. Renting is fine as long as it’s a safe home for children placed in their care.
- Children placed in foster care receive medical coverage through the Department of Social Services, including dental and vision. Foster parents are not responsible for medical expenses.
- Foster parents who work outside the home can have child care reimbursed by the Division of Child Care Services based on certain criteria.
- The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their family when it is safe to do so. However, foster parents interested in adopting children in their care may have the opportunity to do so on a case-by-case basis. There were over 70 children in the South Dakota foster system available for adoption at the time this issue went to print.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, you can fill out a form at fosterone.sd.gov/CommitToKnowMore and a representative from the Department of Social Services will contact you.
You can also contact one of these local resources for more information.
Bethany Christian Services
508 Columbus Street, Rapid City
Catholic Social Services
529 Kansas City Street, Rapid City
844 N 5th St., Spearfish
1049 Howard St., Sturgis
Children’s Home Society
1330 Jolly Lane, Rapid City
Department of Social Services
510 N. Cambell Street, Rapid City
Lutheran Social Services
2920 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City
*Note that not all facilities require a specific belief system to help. Ask questions and be informed to make the best decisions for your family.