The foster care system is different in every state. Each state has its own requirements, organizations, and processes. Focus on the Family is thrilled to partner with on-the-ground champions for children in foster care in the state of Kentucky. Below, you will find practical information about taking the next step to help vulnerable children in Kentucky’s foster care system.
Steps for Becoming a Foster Family in Kentucky
First things first, it is important to know that fostering is a rewarding but challenging role. Foster families forever change the lives of a child, teen, or sibling group. If you feel called to open your heart and your home to children, do not delay in getting involved. There are children waiting for loving foster and adoptive homes. To see profiles of children awaiting adoption in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Adoption Profile Exchange (KAPE) website.
1. Consider Your Situation
Each state’s requirements vary for fostering, but there are some general questions you can ask yourself before getting started. If you answer “yes” to the questions below and care about children, you may be an answer to prayer for a child or teen in foster care.
- Are you over the age of 21?
- Are you a Kentucky resident with a valid Kentucky driver’s license?
- Do you have reliable transportation and auto insurance?
- Are you mentally and physically able to care for a child/children?
- Do you own or rent a home that is safe and free from hazards?
- Do you have space for additional child/children in your home?
- Are you willing to complete criminal background and child abuse/neglect checks?
- Are you willing to complete the pre-service training and participate in a home study?
There will be additional questions for you to consider as you move through the foster care journey, but these are a baseline for becoming involved and learning more1.
2. Express Your Interest to a Local Agency or Organization
Foster care agencies and bridge organizations throughout Kentucky are ready to help you along the journey! Orphan Care Alliance and Sunrise Children’s Services are two faith-based organizations in Kentucky that work to equip foster families. Both offer foster care training among several other services. Ramey-Estep also provides case management and support for foster families in northeast Kentucky. Reach out to one of these organizations or others that you might know, and they can begin walking you through the steps of foster care certification.
3. Attend Informational Meetings and Trainings
At your first informational meeting with a local agency, you will receive practical information about Kentucky’s foster care system. You will also learn more about the agency with which you are working and how they support foster families throughout their journeys. The agency will likely outline the steps needed for certification and how long you can expect the training process to last.
In foster care training, you will learn the necessary skills for caring for vulnerable children. Over the course of several sessions, you will discuss topics such as trauma-informed care, communication skills, dealing with challenging behaviors, preparing for a placement, your responsibilities as a foster parent, and more2. These training sessions will equip you to make an informed decision about whether fostering is right for you and your family. The trainings prepare you to care for children in foster care if you feel led to move forward.
4. Complete Paperwork, Background Checks, and Home Studies
As you attend trainings, you will submit the necessary paperwork for background checks and your home study. During the approval process, a certification worker will conduct multiple consultations in your home with you and your family. A foster family’s home must meet the state’s requirements for housing safety and space. All applicants and adult household members must also complete criminal background checks3.
5. Welcome a Child and Accept Support
The training, support, and resources you receive before welcoming your first placement to your home will prepare you for initial success. But post-placement support from your local community and church is equally important. One of the best places to find support is through a foster/adoptive family ministry at your church. If your church does not yet have a foster/adoptive ministry, you can learn how to start one by clicking here. Ongoing foster care training will also provide a place for you to discuss challenges you may encounter while fostering. Your foster care agency is a source of support, as well.
Other Ways to Support Kentucky Children in Foster Care
Caring for vulnerable children is a command for Christians. We may all approach this calling differently. Some people are called to foster or adopt, but others are called to support. Supporting foster and adoptive families is a crucial role.
Support Foster Families
One way you can support families is by volunteering your time. If your church does not have a foster/adoptive ministry, you could be the person to lead one. However, if you want to start small, you can find a foster family in your community to support. You can bring meals, offer to run errands, offer words of encouragement, and so much more. If you need suggestions or ideas of where to start, reach out to local foster care agencies and bridge organizations! You might even be able to volunteer at local foster care “closets” where foster families can get necessary clothing and equipment for little to no cost.
Become a Mentor
Perhaps there is a middle ground between fostering and support that you can step into. Youth in foster care need mentors and friends to help them learn good problem-solving and decision-making skills. Could you become a mentor or a life coach? Orphan Care Alliance facilitates a Life Coaching ministry to connect youth aged 12-21 with a Christian life coach. If you have one hour a week to spend with a pre-teen or young adult who has experienced foster care, you have the potential to change a life.
Pray for Children and Teens in Foster Care
Finally, do not underestimate the power of prayer. Even if you do not live in Kentucky, your prayers can make a difference for children in foster care. Although each state runs its foster care system differently, you can pray for children in Kentucky and across the United States.
1 “Foster Care.” Sunrise Children’s Services. “https://www.sunrise.org/foster-care/
2 “Training Calendar.” Sunrise Children’s Services. https://www.sunrise.org/trainingcalendar/
3 “Fall in Love with Foster Care and Adoption.” Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. https://prd.webapps.chfs.ky.gov/kyfaces/Content/docs/Fall_in_love_foster_care_info.pdf