The Department of Children and Families (DCF) protects children in Massachusetts from abuse and neglect, and ensures they are able to grow in nurturing home environments. When notified of an unsuitable living situation, DCF may decide to remove a child from their home and take them into custody. If the agency cannot find new placement with one of the child’s family relatives, that child becomes part of the Foster Care Program.
Foster care provides children with a temporary place for healing and an extended family to lean on until it is safe for them to return to their own home. Being a foster parent means playing an important role in the support and guidance of these children.
How to Become a Foster Parent
- Call 1-800-KIDS-508 or email DCF to discuss your interest in becoming a foster parent.
- If you decide to proceed, a social worker will meet you and other household members in your home for a Physical Standards Check to ensure your living and sleeping quarters comply with all DCF regulations and policies.
- A social worker will also request personal references and prepare a Home Study document that details your family’s strengths as well as its challenges and limitations.
- All household members over the age of 14 must also undergo a Criminal Background Check for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents.
Your home becomes licensed after all of these steps and checks have been completed. However, child placement decisions are based on matching the needs of children. Although your home may be licensed, you may not immediately receive a child.
Support Services for Foster Parents and Children
Taking a foster child into your home is a difficult, yet rewarding task. To help with the transition, DCF offers various services and support for foster parents and children:
- Each foster parent and child placed in a home will be assigned a Foster Care Social Worker.
- Foster parents receive an age-based stipend for each child to cover living expenses as well as quarterly allowances for each child’s clothing, school, recreation, and related expenses.
- Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) Training discusses the difficulties faced by children in foster care, how your family life may be impacted, and other foster care FAQs.
- A DCF hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any foster care questions or concerns.
- MassHealth provides comprehensive medical and dental coverage for foster children.
The experience of foster parenting is unique to each person who assumes the role. It is challenging, but can also be deeply gratifying. If you are thinking about foster care and can open your home and heart to a child, contact the Department of Children and Families (DCF) today.
Have you recently become a foster parent? Share your story with us by tweeting at @MassGov.
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