FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I am divorced. Can I still be a foster parent?
Yes, however, it is important that you have a good support system. If you are alone, it’s very helpful to have someone that can help you if your car breaks down, if you must work late or if you just can’t pick up the child as agreed upon or take them to an appointment.
I rent my home; can I foster?
Yes, it is okay to rent, but you must have enough room in the apartment to accommodate the children you will foster. Adding a child would not be feasible if you have a one-bedroom apartment.
I am retired. Can my wife and I still foster?
Yes, as long as you are mentally, physically, and financially fit and otherwise qualified to foster, this would not disqualify you.
I work. Can I foster?
Yes, as long as childcare needs are provided for.
I have two kids of my own, is that okay?
Yes, however, considering the specific issues of the potential placements and of your children, it may impact placements. For example, there are rules for how rooms can be shared. Also, if your kids have behavioral or medical challenges, placing additional children might be difficult due to the issues with your existing kiddos. Sometimes children cannot be placed with younger children, or when there is a large age gap.
Can I take the kids to my church?
As a rule, yes. However, we cannot force a child to engage in church-related expectations, such as praying, taking communion, baptism, etc. If your church has some potentially dangerous practices, we will probably ask that you do not take the kids. We must also respect the faith of the child placed in your home. If they profess a certain religion, you would be expected to take them to that faith’s services. (Such as taking a Catholic child to mass, a Jewish child to the local synagogue, etc.)
Can I give the kids chores?
Chores that are part of teaching structure and routine, such as making their bed, cleaning their play area, etc., are certainly appropriate. There may be some limits preventing potentially dangerous chores, such as operating equipment, climbing a ladder, etc. Foster kids are not placed to staff family businesses or to be used as laborers.
Will I be able to adopt the foster kids we have in our home?
It is important to remember that foster care is designed to be temporary. The children are returned home, or a permanent family is targeted based on their potential kinship relationship, their time in foster care, and their specific needs. With that said, foster parents are often an obvious consideration to adopt the children they have cared for. It is very common that when adoption decisions are made, the foster parents are considered.
I smoke, drink beer, and have guns. Do you have a problem with that?
Pennsylvania does not allow anyone to smoke in the car or at home while a foster child is present. This is non-negotiable; if you MUST smoke in the house, we cannot approve you. Alcoholic beverages must not be accessible in any fashion to the children, and we prefer that drinking not be done in the presence of a child to prevent them from being overly curious about experimenting. We certainly respect the right to bear arms; with foster kids in the home, there are rules about locking the guns, storing the ammunition, and preventing the kids from accessing the weapons. Certainly, no one wants to see a child harmed or to make a poor decision that ends with an injury. If you are willing to accept the safety requirements, then things are fine. The main issue is to prevent the children from being able to get to your tobacco, beer/liquor, or guns.
I filed for bankruptcy 15 years ago when my business failed. Will this prevent me from fostering?
Every foster parent must show they are financially stable at the time they are approved. If your bankruptcy is current or was filed in the last year or two, it may prevent you from being approved. The main issue is, how are your finances today? Did your credit and finances improve after the bankruptcy, or are you still having difficulty? In short, the answer is no, it will not impact you significantly, but more recent concerns may indicate that your financial habits have not changed.
I was arrested for a bar fight and DUI in college but have not been in trouble since. Is this something that prevents me from fostering?
If this happened last month, it surely indicates a problem with drinking and perhaps anger concerns. We reserve the right to have you address concerns professionally before being considered for approval. It is less of a problem if ten years have passed without new incidents. We may ask if you have done anything to address whatever issues had occurred in the past to make sure you are appropriately stable at this time.
We are currently with another agency; can we transfer to LifeSpan?
We do not recruit foster parents from other agencies as that is often bad practice. However, you may apply, and we will seek a reference from your current agency and others to see if it was a positive experience or if there are issues that need to be addressed.