Getting Clear About Foster Care
Learn about the needs, issues, and how to get involved in supporting, advocating for or becoming a Foster Parent.
There is a critical need in Washington state for foster homes that have the skills, passion, and commitment to support kids and teens until they are reunited with their parents. Becoming a foster family is not an easy decision but there are many easy steps and actions you can take to improve the health and welfare of foster kids and families. Start by learning more about the issues and then decide what a small action or next step for you looks like.
Whether it’s becoming a foster parent, learning more, or advocating, there are many ways to help. Fill out this form to take the next step towards supporting kids in Foster Care.
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Young people in foster care range from age 0-21 and come from a variety of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Children of color are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system across the US. In Washington, Native American children are three times more likely, and African American children are two times more likely to be placed in out of home care.
LGBTQ+ youth are also over-represented in the foster care system and lack affirming foster placements.
Children in foster care are on a wide spectrum when it comes to their individual strengths, development, needs, and behaviors. All children in foster care are affected by the separation from their families. Children or youth who have faced trauma sometimes have learned behaviors to keep themselves safe, or to meet their needs in other ways, and need extra understanding and patience.
Our friends at Treehouse have highlighted important facts on the experiences of children and youth in care:
The Y Foster Care Program predominately serves western King County, but has licensed and currently supports some foster families in Snohomish and Pierce counties.
If you have the passion and patience for helping kids and families heal and grow, you're off to a good start. Here are some other attributes that make great foster parents:
Sometimes youth placed in our foster homes are ready to move to their permanent home within a matter of days, and sometimes placements last a few years. It’s always our goal that Y foster homes are the last places young people will live before achieving permanency.
Full-time foster parents provide a loving and stable environment for children during their time in foster care with support and guidance from Y staff. Some youth who are referred for placement to the Y have qualified for Behavior Rehabilitation Services (or “BRS”) and have been enrolled in the program by their Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) social worker. All youth in foster care face tremendous feelings of grief and loss regardless of this designation. Additional training requirements exist for families who choose to foster youth enrolled in BRS, and these families receive greater reimbursement.
At the Y, there are multiple ways to provide short-term care to children in foster care.
Foster Parents can provide short-term respite placements for youth in foster care. Respite is provided to give full-time parents time off or to help stabilize a child going through a challenging time. Respite can last a few hours, overnight, or for several days. Foster parents may also be asked to assist with a respite on an emergency basis. Foster parents often have the opportunity to provide respite care for the same child or youth on a regular basis if the match works well.
Foster parents have the option to provide short-term care through what’s called Receiving Care. This type of care supports youth who are brand new to foster care and placements typically last 14 days but may be authorized up to 30 days. Providing short-term emergent care as a foster parent helps prevent children from spending nights in hotels or shelters and gives the social worker more time to identify the most appropriate placement for that youth. It also ensures that kids have a warm and nurturing place to land when they are first removed from their home of origin.
In-home Respite Care
Certified in-home respite providers care for foster children in the community and in licensed foster homes. In-home respite care does not require licensing.
The Y is here with the training and support you need to be a good foster parent. The staff at the Y are specially trained in caring for children affected by trauma and are well-equipped to support all of our families.
Each child is assigned a case manager who works with the foster family and their social worker to support the youth. The case managers regularly assess the needs of the youth and connect them to further services as necessary within and outside the Accelerator YMCA.
Some youth in foster care are also enrolled in Behavior Rehabilitation Services (BRS) by their DCYF social worker. When the Y supports youth with this designation, a wraparound team consisting of an intensive case manager and a child and family therapist is assigned. The youth’s mental health is included in the treatment planning process.
The Y is also a provider of Wraparound with Intensive Services (or “WISe”), and some youth supported by the Y will be eligible for this type of service as well. Similar to BRS, WISe teams approach the care of each youth from a wraparound perspective. Teams consist of an intensive case manager, a therapist, and a family partner.
Throughout the time a child is in the home, all foster parents also have access to the support of a Foster Home Developer who has been a licensed foster parent for over 20 years.
Once you become licensed, our placement team will work directly with your family and the state to coordinate placement of children in your home. Our placement process involves getting to know your family and making thoughtful decisions together about how your skills, experience, and home dynamic will be the best fit for a child needing placement.
It typically takes around six months depending on how quickly you are able to advance through the process.
Yes! However, DCYF does not have a process for transferring your license between agencies. You will have to re-license with the Y, but we can review your licensing file and we may be able to utilize some of the documents and certificates. Please contact us to speak with a licensor who can provide more details depending on your unique case.
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 caregiver is eligible to foster. Applicants will also have a chance to talk to current YMCA foster parents.
We’re here for you with counseling services that span mental health, substance use, and psychiatric care for people of all ages in King County.
For immediate assistance with a behavioral health crisis or a young person’s safety or shelter, call the King County 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 866-427-4747.
With a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, improving health and well-being, and supporting our neighbors, your membership will not just bring about meaningful change in yourself, but also in your community.