Every day we wonder how many individuals and families do not apply to foster or adopt children due to the misconceptions about what it takes to help a child in need. Children’s Bureau families need to have the willingness, ability and resources to protect and nurture children, meet developmental needs and address delays, support relationships with the child’s birth families, connect the child to safe and nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime and be willing and able to work as a member of a professional team. Beyond these minimum requirements, there are specifics that are many times misconstrued.

For instance, individuals do not have to be married to foster or adopt a child. They do not have to own their own home.  There is no age limit except for a minimum of 21 years of age – a person needs to have the ability to care for a child of the age for which they show interest.  A working parent needs to have the backup of either family members or a friend who can transport the child in the event that they cannot.  There are monitored visits with birth parents, visits to the doctor and dentist and after school activities including sports or music lessons for older children. The working parent must be willing and able to pay for childcare out of the stipend for the child the hours he/she is not available.  It is important to research child care prior to having a child in the home, so that there is no surprise with the cost of daycare. 

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Individuals do not have to own their home.  They can live in a house, condo or an apartment.  They can share a home, if the other person is willing to be fingerprinted and has no criminal history.  There needs to be space for a child.  A baby must have the ability to move into a room when he/she turns 2 but can share the parent’s room until then.  Children are able to share rooms.   

Adoption is not expensive.  Both foster care and adoption offer stipends to help with the care of the child.  The minimum monthly stipend for foster care/adoption is $846 (recently increased) for a child and goes higher with the age of the child.  The stipend continues until the child returns to their family, goes to an adoptive home if the family is not adopting, or is adopted by the foster family.  Once adopted, the foster family currently receives a stipend of about $400 from the federal government until the child turns 18, and in some cases 21.  There is a federal tax deduction for adoption that you may ask your accountant about to determine your eligibility.  The process of applying and becoming a foster/adoptive parent costs around $400 and includes the cost of fingerprint clearances, DMV clearances, CPR/1st Aid and miscellaneous costs.  These are considered non-recurring expenses that can be submitted to the county where you adopt for reimbursement up to $400.

It does not take a long time to become a foster or foster/adoptive parent.  In most cases, if documents are completed in a timely manner, it takes 3-4 months to become a Certified Foster Adoptive Parent.  The stipend begins when a child arrives at your home.  We have a great need for families!! The agency is holding a monthly information meeting for those interested in learning more on Saturday, November 2nd from 10:00 a.m. – Noon at Children’s Bureau Family Center, 1910 Magnolia Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007.  (661) 272-9996    www.all4kids.org