When a child in care can’t be reunited with their parents, fostering to adopt is an incredible way to provide a forever home. Here’s how it works in...
How to Become a Foster Parent in Ohio
The state of Ohio always needs foster parents ready to step in and care for children in need! Here’s how to become a foster parent in Ohio.
Becoming a foster parent in Ohio is a selfless act — especially with over 15,000 kids in care throughout the state.
If you’re looking to become a foster parent and provide a safe and loving home to a child in need, our blog can help you get started with the process.
From basic requirements to the inspection of your home, we’ll provide steps on how to become a foster parent in Ohio.
But first, we want to make sure that you understand what being a foster parent means — it’s more than just providing shelter for a child in care!
What is the Role of a Foster Parent in Ohio?
At its core, being a foster parent in Ohio (or anywhere in the world) means creating a space where a child can thrive beyond any trauma they’ve experienced.
So, what does that mean for you as a foster parent?
Here’s what you’ll need to know to be an incredible foster parent to a child in care.
Providing a Safe and Nurturing Environment
A child in care who feels safe and happy is one that will thrive and grow!
- Foster parents need to create a home environment that is safe and full of love.
- They also need to provide the basics: food to eat, a comfortable place to lay their heads, and chances to participate in fun activities and hobbies.
It’s more than just shelter — a foster home offers many of the simple things that help a child in care live a normal, stable life and grow up healthy!
Many kids in care enter foster care because of neglect or abuse — in some cases, you’ll be providing stability in the life of a child who has never experienced what a healthy home environment is. You may even be their first example of what a healthy relationship looks like.
Building Positive Relationships
Teaching children about positive relationships can be a tough job, but it's particularly important for a child in care.
- Foster parents should help a child in care not only connect with them but also, if they can, reconnect with their birth parents.
- For many children in care, especially those in therapeutic foster care, building relationships with people can be hard at first.
However, with a loving hand from foster parents, we can help kids in care foster these long-lasting relationships.
Addressing Emotional Needs
Kids in care may have more complex emotional needs — and that’s okay. As a foster parent, you can help them learn healthy ways to acknowledge and act on their feelings.
- Children in care often require additional patience and support to manage their emotions, especially if they have been through trauma.
- Foster parents have access to educational opportunities that teach them the skills they need to provide this kind of support to a child in care.
- By creating a sense of safety, love, and inclusion in the family, foster parents help these children heal.
Solving Educational Needs
Unfortunately, children in care are one of the groups most at risk in terms of high school completion rates. Getting into college as they become adults can also be a challenge because of their experiences and the dangers of “aging out” of care.
Foster parents can make all the difference during those crucial formative years when a child in care needs help the most!
- Children in care need help with their education like any other kid.
- By collaborating with teachers and other professionals, foster parents can best support the education of a child in care.
- This collaboration helps address a child’s unique needs and overcome any school-related challenges.
Preparing Them For Adulthood
One of the main priorities of being a foster parent is helping to prepare a child in care for adulthood!
Foster parents play a big role in helping a child in care grow into a successful adult.
- They provide emotional support and teach important life skills.
- This includes showing foster teens how to manage money, save, and understand the support they can get if they leave foster care when they're older.
Unfortunately, many children in Ohio (and elsewhere in the US) age out of foster care — around 1,000 a year, to be exact. They often aren’t prepared for what’s out there after becoming an adult.
As a foster parent, you can help be the change needed to help a child in care live a fulfilling life beyond their teenage years!
The Process of Becoming a Foster Parent in Ohio
If you’re ready to make a difference in the life of a child in care in Ohio, here are the steps you’ll need to take moving forward.
To become a foster parent, there are a set of requirements that you’ll need to meet in every state.
Ohio’s basic requirements for foster parents are:
- You need to be at least 18 years old.
- At least one person in your home must be able to read, write, and speak English, or communicate effectively with a child in care and any organizations involved.
- You can be single or married — all orientations are welcome.
- All religions are accepted and welcomed.
- You need to provide contact details for references.
- Your household should have enough income for basic needs and shelter costs.
- Owning a home isn't necessary, but you’ll need enough space for a child in care and all of their belongings.
- Every child needs their own bed. Separate bedrooms are required for boys and girls over age 5.
- You and your household members must not have any health issues that could harm a child or make it difficult to care for them.
- A medical professional must confirm the health of everyone in your household.
- Everyone aged 18 and over in the home must pass criminal and child abuse/neglect checks.
Filling Out an Application
Once you know that the basic requirements are met, you’ll be able to start filling out an application.
This process is different in every state — let’s look at how it works in Ohio.
- You can start the process on your own — in Ohio, it starts by locating an agency on the Ohio Foster, Adoption & Kinship Care website.
- Mentor Foster Care, a part of Sevita’s companies, helps prospective foster parents in Ohio with the application process and to become foster parents.
- We can also answer any questions you might have about fostering along the way.
- In most cases, the process of becoming a foster parent with support from our experts tends to be much faster than trying to complete the process alone!
Across the US, becoming a foster parent involves taking part in preservice sessions to help you provide the best possible care for a child in need.
- In Ohio, these preservice sessions take 24 hours total, and they teach you about foster care, adoption, and the rules of the agency.
- It helps you learn how to care for kids who have been abused or neglected and explains how the child welfare system works.
- Different places offer this training at different times, including evenings and weekends.
It's good to attend all the parts of the training at once so you can meet other foster families and make connections! When you work with Mentor Foster Care, we connect you with other Mentor Foster Families in Ohio. That way, you can learn and grow together with other foster parents nearby.
Continuing Preservice Sessions
Even after you begin looking after a child in care, you’ll need to continue with your preservice sessions. The state of Ohio requires foster parents to do 30 hours of sessions every two years or 45 hours for special care.
You can find out more about these courses from the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program!
Every state in the US requires a home study — including Ohio.
- During a home study, a social worker will ensure that your home is a safe and nurturing environment for a child.
- They will also discuss your family life, lifestyle, and reasons for wanting to be a foster parent.
This step is not just a requirement; it's also an opportunity for you to reflect deeply on the decision to become a foster parent, as it's a significant commitment.
Sevita’s Upcoming Webinar Can Help Potential Foster Parents in Ohio
Ready to become a foster parent? If so, our upcoming webinar can help 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 our webinar today, or call our local office to get started!