Getting Clear About Foster Care

Would I make a good foster parent?

If you have the passion and patience for helping kids and families heal and grow, you're off to a great start.

  • Young families or empty-nesters

  • Homeowners or renters

  • Any gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or education level

  • Professionals, stay-at-home parents or retired

  • Of any level of experience - 0 to 30+ years

One person on the license needs to have an social security number.

What geographic area does the Y serve?

The YMCA Foster Care Program predominately serves western King County, but has licensed and currently supports some foster families in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Who can become a foster parent?

To qualify for foster care licensing, you must: be age 21+, be able to pass screening and training requirements, have a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children in foster care and be able to provide a bedroom for children in a safe and caring home. Foster children can share a bedroom with other children in the home.

What are the different types of foster parents?

Foster Parents provide a home for a foster child or youth ages 0 to 21.

  • Traditional Foster Parents provide a loving home for foster children with typical needs. Placements can last as little as a couple of days or a few years.

  • Therapeutic Foster Parents build a stable environment for children or youth with higher behavioral needs with/using support and guidance from Y staff. Placements typically last 6 to 12 months. Our skilled Child and Family Therapists and Behavior Specialists provide intensive case management and therapy for the youth. Most of the children and youth in this program require significant supervision and attend weekly office appointments, so we require that at least one parent has a very flexible work schedule. Learn more

  • Short-Term Foster Parents offer short-term, respite placements for youth in our programs. Respite is provided to help stabilize a child going through a challenging time or to give full-time foster some time off. Respite can last a few hours, overnight or for several days. Respite providers may be asked to assist on an emergency basis. Respite providers often have the opportunity to provide respite care for the same child or youth on a regular basis if the match works well. We have an urgent need for respite foster parents.

  • Crisis Stabilization Foster Parents provide immediate out-of-home placement to address a crisis in a family's life. Placements typically last up to two weeks and are an alternative to hospitalization or other institutional settings. (This program is for experienced therapeutic foster parents only.)

  • Specialized Foster Parents serve commercially sexually exploited children and youth. Learn more

  • In-Home Respite Care Does not require licensing. In-home respite providers care for foster children in the community and in licensed foster homes.

What types of staff support does the Y offer?

The YMCA has extensive experience in caring for children with higher behavioral needs and our team is well-equipped to support all of our families. Our Child and Family Therapists, Behavior Specialists, and Case Managers work closely with our families and the child’s state social worker to provide wraparound services for children and families. We also have a Foster Home Developer and Trainer, who supports and coaches foster parents and has been a licensed foster parent for over 20 years.

How does the Y work with me to decide if my home is the right fit for a child?

The Y shares all information about the children we place, so the family can best serve the child’s needs. The Y also has a designated Placement Coordinator on staff that works closely with the family to ensure a good fit. Foster parents can also choose to be on the email list of the DCYF placement desk.

How long will it take me to get licensed?

The Y licensing process works at your pace, It typically takes three to six months depending on how quickly you are ready to advance through the process.

Can I transfer my license to the Y?

Yes! We do have to submit a brand-new application and certification packet to the state, however we are not starting from scratch! We can update some of the forms and documents you have already completed and we already have a previous home study to use during the assessment process. Please contact us to speak with a licensor who can provide more details depending on your unique case.

I'm ready. What do I do now?

When you decide that becoming a foster parent is the right decision for you, there are some initial steps the Y takes to ensure each parent is eligible to foster. Applicants will also have a chance to talk to current YMCA foster parents.

  • Step 1: Contact a YMCA Foster Home Licensor, and schedule a phone screening (an in-person interview is required for therapeutic foster care applicants)

  • Step 2: Submit application forms and start working on your licensing packet

  • Step 3: Complete the required training sessions

  • Step 4: Schedule your in-home interviews and home inspection with your licensor

  • Step 5: Complete the New Foster Parent Orientation