How do you become a foster parent in Alabama? What are the steps you need to take? Find the answers you’re looking for in our latest blog post!
How to Become a Foster Parent in Massachusetts
There is a growing need for foster parents in Massachusetts. If you want to foster a child and make a difference, this blog is for you.
Massachusetts always needs generous and loving foster parents — especially considering that there are over 8,700 kids in care throughout the state.
If you want to help meet this need, you might be wondering how to go about becoming a foster parent in Massachusetts. What’s the process? Where do you start? How long does it take?
Our guide on how to become a foster parent in Massachusetts can help — but before we touch on that, let’s talk about what being a foster parent means and the role you’ll need to play.
The Role of a Foster Parent in Massachusetts
Understanding your role as a foster parent is important — it’s a big step to take for both a child in care and for you as well.
Here are some things you’ll need to provide and consider as a foster parent.
A Safe and Nurturing Environment
The best environment for a child in care is one that is secure, safe, and filled with love.
- Foster parents, like biological parents, should make sure their home is a safe and loving place.
- They should provide essentials for kids in care, like food, a cozy place to sleep, and opportunities for enjoyable hobbies and activities.
- It's not just about having a roof over their heads — a foster home provides the basic comforts that enable a child in care to experience a stable, ordinary life — in many cases, for the first time.
Building Positive Relationships
Teaching kids about healthy relationships is challenging, but it's vital for children in foster care.
- Foster parents need to support children in building connections with others, and, when possible, in re-establishing ties with their biological parents.
- For kids in care — especially those in therapeutic foster settings — forming bonds with others can initially be difficult.
- By approaching with love, you can assist children in developing better relationships and act as an ally and safe space for kids in care to take this step.
Addressing Emotional Needs
Children in foster care might have more complex emotional needs, and that's perfectly fine.
- As a foster parent, you're a supportive ally equipped with the training and abilities to help in their healing journey.
- Offering a safe, loving, and inclusive family environment is a great place to start!
- Often, children in care need extra patience and assistance to handle their emotions, particularly if they've experienced trauma.
- For some, specialized therapy services are included in their care plans, and as their foster parent, you also play a role in ensuring they attend these sessions.
An Ally In Education
Sadly, children in foster care are among those most likely to struggle with finishing high school and entering college as they grow up.
- Foster parents can play a pivotal role during these critical years, offering the support children in care need the most.
- Like all children, those in care require educational assistance to succeed.
- Foster parents can make a big difference by working together with teachers and other educational professionals.
Preparing Them For Adulthood
All parents want to make sure that their children become happy and successful adults, and foster parents are no different!
- Foster parents play a vital role in nurturing a child's growth into a responsible adult by offering emotional backing and teaching crucial life skills.
- They help teens in foster care in financial management, including budgeting, saving, and understanding the support available to them after leaving foster care.
- Aging out of foster care is a big problem in Massachusetts and other parts of the U.S — there are between 600 and 1,000 children aging out in Massachusetts every year.
- As a foster parent, you have the opportunity to drive positive change, helping a child in care to lead a rewarding life well into their adult years.
Becoming a Foster Parent in Massachusetts
If you can provide for a child in care and you understand the role we’ve explained above, then you’re ready to start your journey as a foster parent in Massachusetts!
Here are the steps you’ll need to take.
Before you fill out an application, you’ll need to meet these requirements provided by the state:
- You need to be at least 18 years old.
- You can be single or married — all orientations are welcome. The same applies to religion.
- You must have a stable income source.
- You must rent or own a home that meets the standards of the DCF (Department of Children and Families).
- You must pass a background record check.
- At least one person in the household has a basic ability to read and write in English or in the family’s primary language.
- You must not have an animal in the home that could be dangerous to a child in care.
Filling Out an Application
Do you meet the requirements above?
Great — you’re ready to start the application process!
There are two different ways you can get started:
- To begin the process by yourself, you’ll start by going to the Massachusetts government website.
- Here, you’ll find a form to fill out that will get you in touch with a team member from the Department of Children and Families. They will provide you with the full application after meeting with you!
- If you prefer some guidance along the way, you can work with a partner in the process.
- For example, Mentor Foster Care, a part of Sevita’s companies, helps prospective foster parents in Massachusetts with the application process and to become foster parents.
- We can also answer any questions you might have about fostering along the way!
- We often see the process of becoming a foster parent with support from our experts end up being much faster than trying to complete the process alone!
No matter where you are in the US, you’ll need to complete some preservice sessions before becoming a foster parent. The details on these sessions vary by state — for Massachusetts, here’s what you need to know:
- Massachusetts preservice sessions for foster parents are known as MAPP (Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting) training.
- The MAPP program is spread out over several weeks — it’s broken down into 3-hour sessions for a total of 30 hours required by the state.
- Some of the topics covered during the sessions include communication, positive discipline, child guidance, and building self-esteem.
- You can check the MAPP schedule for training times — there are also some sessions available on certain weekends!
Every foster parent in Massachusetts must pass a home study. The state of Massachusetts has its own set of home requirements that you’ll need to meet to become a foster parent.
- During a home study, a DCF worker will ensure that your home is a safe and nurturing environment for a child.
- Your home must be safe from hazards — you’ll need to have a working fire extinguisher, working ventilation, hot water, plumbing, electricity, and heat.
- They will also discuss your family life, lifestyle, and reasons for wanting to be a foster parent.
- View the full list of home requirements to ensure that you’re ready for a home study.
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.
How Long is the Foster Parent Approval Process in Massachusetts?
In general, you can expect the process to become a foster parent in Massachusetts to take anywhere from three to six months.
If you work with an organization dedicated to fostering, such as Mentor Foster Care, the process can often be on the lower end of that range.
Join Sevita’s Upcoming Webinar For Potential Foster Parents in Massachusetts
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!