Parenting is a tough job under the best of circumstances. When a parent is no longer able to care for the needs of their child, or when their actions threaten the health or safety of their child, the Department of Social Services can become involved. Our efforts are focused first on maintaining children in their home if at all possible, but sometimes we have to look for someone to care for the child outside of the home while the parents take time to address the safety concerns that prevent the child from remaining safely at home.
When children are removed from the home, the primary goal of Child Welfare Services is to reunify children with their family as quickly as possible. On average, 68% of children who are taken into Foster Care are reunified with their families within 12 months. Child Welfare Services is committed to providing birth families with the resources, training and support they need to make the changes required in order to reunify with their children. The length of time a family can work toward reunification varies depending on the age of the child, specific family circumstances, and any previous involvement with Child Welfare Services.
Each family will work with their assigned Social Worker to develop a Reunification Plan that outlines:
- Expectations of the family
- Types of services that will be provided
- Length of time those services will be provided
If children are not able to remain safely in their home, they will be placed with a Resource Family.
Resource Families are families that have been approved by our Department to care for foster children. Resource Families are required to complete a criminal history clearance, training hours, health screenings, and assessments. The Department first looks to see if there is a relative or other close adult with whom the child can live. We can place children with relatives or other close adults on an emergency basis while the family completes the Resource Family application process. If a relative or other close adult cannot be found, the children will be placed with a family who has already completed the approval process to become a Resource Family. Preferably, these homes are within the community in which the child currently lives in order to maintain school enrollment, friendships, and community ties.
There is room for everyone! Every family is unique and each home is a valued resource for the youth in our community. Some are traditional families with a working father and a mother that stays at home. Some families have two working parents with adequate child care. Others are single parents and some are in committed domestic partnerships, while others are older parents with plenty of energy!
While Resource Families are a diverse group, they share a commitment to meet the needs of children during a difficult time and strive to nurture the children in their care.