After you have called your local office of the Department of Social Development and indicated your interest in becoming a foster family, you will be guided through a three-phase assessment process. The social worker you initially speak with will provide you more detailed information but here is a general idea of what will be required:
Applying to become a foster family
Phase 1 - Gathering of Information
- You will be asked to complete the Application to Foster and the Department of Social Development Record Check Consent forms and return them to your local office of Social Development.
- You are required to have a Criminal Record Check completed by your local law enforcement agency on any one 19 years of age and older living in your home. There may be a cost for requesting the check. The results of the inquiry are returned to the social worker processing your application.
Phase 2 - Non-negotiable eligibility criteria
- A social worker from the Children's Residential Services Unit of the Department of Social Development will review your application and will determine if your family meets the non-negotiable eligibility criteria set. The criteria includes your family's physical and emotional health status, financial self-sufficiency, suitability of your home, results of the record check with the department and criminal record checks, and general family situation. Your family's inability to meet any one of these items can stop the application process.
Phase 3 - Mutual Family Assessment
- Once your family has completed Phase 2, both parents or adults who have responsibility for the home are required to participate in the PRIDE (Parent Resource, Information, Development and Education) Pre-service program of 27 hours, generally spread over nine weeks. This program is offered to families interested in fostering and as well as those interested in adopting because the information provided is very important to both groups. The intent of the program is to provide your family with enough information to help them decide if fostering or adoption is right for them.
- This is also a time when the Children's Residential Services social worker continues to assess your family and gather more information on your parents, siblings, lifestyles, family values and general childhood experiences. They consider your current lifestyle and relationship with your immediate family, your parenting experiences and expectations, personalities, interests, pastimes, education, career and your current family's values. The social worker gets a chance to meet your family and discuss with you and your children what being a foster family can mean to them. The information gathered creates a picture of your family for a "match" in terms of children who may be placed with you. The information also helps to determine if in fact fostering would be a good choice for your family at this particular time in your lives.
At any time during the pre-service process, three decisions can be made:
- The applicant decides to select-out of the process because they no longer wish to continue.
- The applicant does not demonstrate the competencies required to become a foster family and the Children's Residential Services social worker counsels them out of the process.
- The applicant demonstrates the competencies required to become a foster family and the Children's Residential Services social worker helps to further develop the competencies to complete the process.
Following the completion of the pre-service program and mutual family assessments, the Children's Residential Services social worker will make a recommendation to the program supervisor whether or not to approve your family as a foster family.