Foster Care

How Does the Foster Care Matching Process Work?

Foster care has a thorough matching process to ensure children are placed in the best possible home. We will explain it step by step.

In every community, some children need a safe and loving home — where they can find care, comfort, and the opportunity to grow in a stable environment. 

This is where foster care steps in, offering a home to children when their own families are unable to do so due to various reasons such as neglect, abuse, or other family crises. 

In fact, throughout the US, foster care helps around 570,000 children annually!

Foster care has a thorough matching process to ensure that children are placed in the best possible home. It may seem long, but it’s one of the most important ways to protect children in care. 

So, how does it work?

Let’s take a look at the different steps: 

The Foster Care Matching Process

The matching process in foster care can vary based on your location, the organization you partner with, and the needs of children in care.

However, in general, here is what you can expect:

  • Matching starts after your home study is completed. If you’re working with an organization, such as Mentor Foster Care, one of our caseworkers will begin searching for a suitable match as soon as possible. 
  • Caseworkers will review your home study. Here, they can get a feel for who you are and how you’ll match with potential children in care. 
  • The matching process takes time to ensure the best possible match. 
  • There are other considerations as well. For example, the best possible outcome for children with siblings is to have them stay together in care. 
  • You may also not be the only family interested in fostering a specific child in care. Other families may also want to foster them, and the decision is solely based on what is best for the child.

How Matching Can Affect Children in Care

Finding the right foster family for a child can impact how they feel and grow. 

  • When kids move into care, they often have feelings of uncertainty and past hurts. Being placed with a family that suits them can ease some of these feelings, providing a stable base where they can start to heal and feel secure.
  • A match that considers the child’s needs and likes, including their cultural background and personal interests, helps them feel like they belong. 
  • This sense of belonging can lower their stress and anxiety, making it easier for them to make friends, do well in school, and enjoy being a kid. 
  • Being in a home ready to meet their specific needs— extra support for emotional issues, medical care, or help with school—can make all the difference in helping a child thrive.
  • Over time, children in stable, caring foster homes are more likely to build strong relationships, succeed academically, and grow into resilient adults.

Once You’re Selected

After selection, you may have a pre-placement visit with a child in care.

  • Pre-placement visits are a key step in the foster care process. They help the child and the foster family get ready for the new living arrangement. These visits allow the child to meet the foster family in their home, helping everyone get to know each other comfortably. 
  • The idea is to make the transition smoother by gradually increasing their time together. This way, the child can start feeling more at ease about moving to a new place, and the foster family can learn more about the child's needs and how to make them feel welcome.

Placing a Child in Care in Your Home 

This step is handled with great care when officially placing a child with a foster family. 

  • After deciding that the match is a good fit, the child in care moves into the foster home. This move is supported by social workers who help the foster family prepare for the child's arrival and assist with any initial challenges.
  • The first few days and weeks after a child is placed with a foster family are a period of big adjustments. As they get used to their new home and family members, they might feel worry and sadness.
  • It’s not just children in care that adjust! The foster family also adjusts to their new role, figuring out how to include the child in their daily life while providing the love and stability the child needs. 
  • Social workers and foster care organizations stay involved, offering support and advice to help the family and child work through difficulties. This time is crucial for building trust and a sense of belonging, aiming to create a positive and supportive environment for the child in their new foster home.
  • Support may also differ depending on a child’s needs. For example, Mentor Foster Care provides therapeutic foster care services — children will require additional support depending on the different traumas they’ve experienced. 

What About Foster to Adopt Situations?

In foster care, the option to foster to adopt offers a chance for both kids in need and people looking to become parents. 

This is where a successful matching process becomes even more important!

  • This process does more than meet the child's current needs. It starts setting a foundation for a potential lifelong home.
  • Foster parents who are considering adopting need to consider many factors during the matching process. They must contemplate the long run and imagine the child as a permanent part of their family. 
  • This means examining how well everyone gets along over time.  The process also considers whether the parents can give the child a stable and loving home and if they're ready for the legal and emotional journey adoption involves.
  • They must also prepare for all the feelings and hurdles, from legal uncertainties to helping the child adjust to a more permanent situation.

The beauty of fostering to adopt is that it can make moving to a forever family smoother for the child, cutting down on the stress and unknowns that often come with foster care and adoption being separate. 

So, the match isn't just about finding a temporary home for the child. It's the first step towards a deep commitment to adopt, planting the seeds for a lifelong, loving relationship.

Ready to Learn More About Foster Care?

Maybe you’re curious and want to learn a little more about the process, or maybe you’re ready to take the next steps to becoming a foster parent.

Wherever you are in your journey, let’s point you in the right direction!

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for the webinar and learn more today!

Sign Up For The Webinar →

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