Why should you become a foster parent?
Rockland County DSS partners with parents to strengthen and improve the safety of their children/teens so the children/teens can be returned home. Although most children/teens will return home, some will need a forever home to be safe and have stability. Typically the current foster family becomes that forever family.
Please see our adoption page for more information.
Foster Parents are people from every walk of life who are committed to providing stable, supportive homes for children/teens who have been removed from their parents because of neglect or abuse. Regardless of involvement in the child welfare system all children and teens are given the right to normative experiences that are age and developmentally appropriate activities and opportunities that promote the healthy cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and educational development of children, youth, and young adults.
Foster Parents can be married or single, straight or a member of the LGBQT+ Community, with or without children/teens, and from any ethnic or cultural background.
Age requirements are flexible, as long as you are healthy adult with the energy and desire to care for a child. You do not have to own your home, as long as your home is safe and large enough to accommodate your family. You do not have to be wealthy to be a foster parent. You must be able to provide adequately for the basic needs of your family.
What is foster parenting?
- Foster parents provide a loving, safe home for children/teens in foster care
- Foster parents work with Caseworkers to reunite children/teens with their families
- When reunification is not possible, foster parents can potentially become the forever family for the foster child/teen
What support/assistance is provided?
RCDSS provides the following:
- A monthly stipend for food, clothing and board, based on the child or teens age and need for special services.
- Medicaid Managed Care insurance for the child or teen.
- Payment for daycare for working Foster Parents.
- Support from individual caseworker and a team of service providers.
- Ongoing Trauma Informed training to learn about caring for children and teens in Foster Care.
- Monthly support group where dinner and child care are provided. During Covid, the monthly support group has been held virtually. Rockland has also collaborated with AGAPE who has a worker on site to provide additional support to foster parents. The Worker is also a foster/adoptive parent. Foster families have also access to RAPP (Relative as Parent Program) which is run by a local agency.
Who are foster parents?
- A foster parent is someone who wants to make a difference in the child’s life
- Has patience and is open to learning new skills to help children cope with the traumas, behaviors and feelings that are associated with the reasons they are in foster care
- Can work as a member of a team with children, biological parents and DSS caseworkers
- Can help prepare a child to return to their birth family; can become an adoptive family; or can become a permanent family resource
Who can become a foster parent?
- You can become a foster parent if you are able to provide loving care, guidance, and a safe and healthy home for a child
- Are at least twenty-one years old
- Are married or single
- Are able to meet your own family’s needs
- Are in good health
- Have enough living space to care for a child
Who are the children/teens in foster care?
- They represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers
- They may be a sibling group needing placement together
- They may be teen parents or mothers to be
- They may have physical or emotional conditions and need special care
How do you become a foster parent?
- To become a foster parent, you will need to attend an orientation session
- Complete foster parenting training
- Participate in a home study
- Adhere to a comprehensive background check which include:
- Being cleared by the State Central Register for child abuse
- Agreeing to be fingerprinted for a criminal history record check
- Providing references and current medical reports
Relatives are the preferred resource for children/teens who must be removed from their birth parents because it maintains the children’s/teen’s connections with their families.
Once a child/teen is removed, the timeline to permanency starts. Birth parents have up to 12 months to work with the agency to reunite with their child. Relatives have two options:
- Child is placed in the care and custody of the Commissioner while physically with a relative
- Relative becomes kinship foster parent to child
- For financial relief, relative receives a monthly stipend and all other reimbursable expenses. Child care subsidy may be available if relative is working. Children are eligible for free school lunch. Children under 5 years old are eligible for WIC
- If no reunification by the 12th month, relative can obtain permanency through KinGap (Kinship Guardianship)
- Child is placed in temporary custody with a relative
- For financial relief, relative can apply for TA (Temporary Assistance) which includes medical / dental coverage. Child care subsidy is accessible if relative is working. Children are eligible for free school lunch. Children under 5 years old are eligible for WIC
- If no reunification by the 12th month, relative can obtain permanent custody under the V-Docket. If parents decide to surrender parental rights, relative can seek adoption
My husband and I have been foster parents with the Rockland County Department of Social Services for seven years. During the seven years, we have adopted three children, 2 girls ages (7,8) one boy age (3). Throughout our time working with Rockland DSS, we have experience nothing but support and encouragement. It has totally been a partnership between our family and Rockland DSS. Whenever we find ourselves with a need, no matter what day of time or night, we can always count on the professional staff at Rockland DSS to provide us assistance with, resources or at times just a listening ear. Becoming foster parent with the Rockland County Department of Social Services was by far one of the best decisions we have made.
– Adoptive Parent
If you have the time, love, space, and support system, being a foster parent is the most rewarding experience we believe anyone can experience.
- Foster parent
Through foster care we now have “extended family” all over Rockland County, including some wonderful case workers that have also become family. We see our first foster child on a regular basis and now that he is 12 with his own phone, we hear from him pretty much constantly. We babysit the elementary age sibling pair on Thursdays when their mom goes to meetings. Teenagers we provided respite care to for just a night or two still text every few weeks to check in and say hi. Our friends and families have been very supportive and personally this has gotten me through some times when I felt it was too emotional for me. I have also called DSS workers for support or even just to vent and have attended the foster parent support meetings when I felt I needed some extra energy to keep me going.
- Foster parent
We have fostered children ranging from a newborn that we took home from the hospital, to infants, toddlers, elementary age, middle school age and currently are fostering an 18 and 19 year old. Each of these children brought a different special gift to our lives and have left a piece of themselves with us and we hope we are still with them either though they are no longer in our home. We run our home as if every new child is a part of our family. We set the rules and expectations and provide love, structure, and support, but do not pressure the child to become an instant family member until they want to. In our home, respect and education are the non-negotiables.