What are the qualifications to become a licensed foster parent or special needs adoptive parent?
- You must be 21 years of age
- You must be a resident of Clark County
- Complete a Pre-Screen of your background and fingerprints.
- Complete 24 hours of Professional Caregivers Pre-Service Training.
- Complete a foster parent application.
- Complete a family profile/home study.
- Have your home approved for safety.
What are the special skills and qualities you look for in foster parents?
Exercise sound judgment and decision-making to meet the safety, well-being and permanency needs of foster children.
Be a part of a child and family team (CFT).
Be willing to help a child and family to be reunified.
Be able to explore your own family and background.
Accept and respect each child as an individual
What is the purpose of the Foster Care Program?
The Foster Care Program is designed to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment for children who had to be removed from their home due to safety or well-being risks. The foster care program helps children to continue to grow in safe and stable environments until they can either be reunitfied with their families or be adopted.
Who must attend the training?
For households with two adults that will be providing foster care - both applicants must attend all training sessions together.
Can I bring children to the training class?
No. Seating is limited to adults only. Childcare is not provided.
Do I have to be married?
No. You can be single or married, or living with a significant other. Couples who are not married can be foster or adoptive parents, however in order to adopt, only one applicant can legally be the adoptive parent. If you are legally married and currently separated from your spouse according to NAC 127 a couple legally married is required to adopt together.
Do I have to own my own home?
No. You can own or rent your residence. You can live in an apartment, house, condominium, townhouse, or mobile home. You will need to be able to provide an acceptable bedroom for yourself and a child who is 12 months and older.
Do I have to have a lot of money?
No. The Department of Family Services (DFS) will look at your income and expenses to ensure that you are capable of providing for your current household needs as well as a child’s needs. DFS does not do credit checks. Lack of sufficient income may preclude you from being licensed.
Can a foster or adoptive child share a bedroom?
Yes, however each child must have his own bed and storage space (closet, dresser drawers). There are restrictions based on age and gender.
Can I take my foster child to my place of worship?
Yes, however, foster parents must respect the faith of the children placed in the home. This means ensuring that the children attend the place of worship they choose. Please note, children have the right to refuse to attend religious activities or services.
Is there any out of pocket expense to become a foster or adoptive family?
Each adult member of the household will be required to pay $45 for fingerprints if approved to do so. The fee is payable to the Clark County Treasurer by cashier’s check or money order. The fee is non-refundable. There may be additional expenses to both foster and adoptive families in order to prepare your home to meet licensing standards, i.e. pool fencing, fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, CPR/First Aid/AED training, TB testing, child safety items, etc.
Adoptive families may pay $45 per person by money order or cashiers check to have their fingerprints processed. Adoptive families incur the cost of physical exams for all family members. Adoptive families also hire an attorney when it is time to finalize the adoption. Assistance may be available to reimburse adoptive families for legal fees up to $250.
Foster parents are reimbursed a month after the service is delivered. Therefore, a foster parent that is caring for a child in the month of December will not be reimbursed for the service until the month of January.
Will an arrest record automatically keep me from being a foster or adoptive parent?
Any felony conviction may preclude a family from moving forward to the fingerprinting, training and licensing process. A person’s overall criminal history will be reviewed and it may be determined from the review that a household will be precluded from moving forward to the fingerprinting, training and licensing processes.
What if I've been investigated by Child Protective Services?
If you have had a substantiated case of child abuse and/or neglect, then you will be precluded from moving forward to the fingerprinting, training and licensing processes. If the complaint was unsubstantiated, you may be asked to provide a written statement regarding the incident(s).
How long will a child stay in my home?
Once a foster child is placed in your foster home she/he will remain in your home until she/he is reunified with his/her parent(s) or relatives, or an adoptive home has been identified.
Will I be able to specify what age, gender and special needs of a child I wish to foster or adopt?
Yes. Do the children have medical coverage? Yes. Foster children are covered by Nevada Medicaid and should not be placed on foster parents insurance coverage. Adoptive children are usually placed on the adoptive parents coverage either at time of placement or finalization of the adoption. Assistance is available to adoptive families to continue Medicaid coverage after finalization if the child qualifies.
Will I be given information concerning the child's needs?
Yes. The Placement team and/or Caseworker will provide you with as much information as possible about the child’s needs.
Does the agency check foster children for HIV/AIDS?
If DFS has reason to believe a child is at risk for having contracted HIV, they will be tested.
How long will the process take to become a licensed foster parent or approved adoptive parent?
From submission of the pre-screen forms to full licensure, the process may take a minimum of 3 months to complete if all requirements are met in a timely manner. Foster parent training takes a minimum of 8 weeks to complete.
Am I expected to take any child that I am contacted about?
No. DFS understands that this is a very important decision and you need to feel comfortable with the placement of a child in your home.
Am I allowed to spank foster children?
No. DFS does not allow any form of corporal punishment.
What happens if I have an out of town emergency?
If you are unable to take the child with you, the caseworker for the child will make arrangements to temporarily place the child in another foster home.
Am I allowed to take foster children in my home out of state on vacation?
Yes. You will be given a letter that authorizes out of state travel.
What is the most common reason why children come into foster care?
Neglect is the number-one reason why children come to the attention of the agency.
Will I meet the birth parents?
Generally, contact between the foster parents and birth parents is encouraged as one of the support tools for the stability of the child. In addition, foster parents may provide a positive mentoring role for birth parents. There are some birth families where contact is not recommended for safety reasons. Foster parents are required to participate as a member in the child and family team when the plan is reunification. The caseworker will let you know if there are any risk factors involved when meeting the birth parents. Adoptive parents generally do not meet the birth parents; however there may be other people involved with the child such as a grandmother or sibling whom the child will need to be able to have contact with after being placed in an adoptive home.
Am I considered the child's legal guardian?
No. DFS is the legal custodian for the child and foster parents are the authorized caretakers. Adoptive parents become the legal custodian once the adoption is finalized in court.
Do I have to go to court?
No. Foster parents are not required to attend court proceedings, but are encouraged to if you’re able. Adoptive parents attend court when it is time to finalize the adoption.
Can foster parents adopt their foster children?
Yes. Foster parents are generally given priority when a foster child’s plan becomes adoption since the child has usually already bonded to the foster family. Foster parents should let the child’s Caseworker know if they would be interested in adopting a child in their home.
Are there babies available for adoption through the Department of Family Services?
Children waiting for adoption are typically school age.
What kinds of appointments should I expect with my foster child and how often?
Foster children usually have many appointments when entering foster care. These could be medical, educational, counseling appointments, as well as visits with their birth parents. Foster parents are required to provide transportation and participate in these appointments. If a foster parent is unable to do this, they need to identify a suitable person approved by DFS in their place.
Who can baby sit foster children? Are daycare services available to Foster Parents?
Foster children can be babysat by other licensed foster families or by individuals approved by the child’s DFS Caseworker. Daycare assistance is available through Urban League to foster parents on a sliding scale during typical business/work hours. Foster parents must apply for this service once a child is placed in their home.
Does the state provide any assistance to families who adopt children with special needs?
Medical Coverage: Eligible special needs children may receive medical coverage through Nevada’s Medicaid Program. This service assists the family in meeting a child’s pre-existing medical needs that are not covered by the family’s primary insurance.
Financial Payments: The program also offers financial assistance in the form of monthly cash grants to help cover the basic needs of the children, which cannot exceed the established foster care rate.
Nonrecurring Adoption Finalization Costs: Families may be reimbursed for attorney and court filing fees related to the finalization of the adoption, up to $250.