The Arizona Department of Child Safety is making it easier for potential foster parents to complete the necessary training classes to become licensed.
In the past, the department required prospective foster parents to attend 40 hours of in-person training.
To make the process easier, DCS is now offering a “pre-training program” called Foster Parent College.
The new program will let potential foster parents complete much of the training at home with 11 online courses.
"Foster parents play an integral role in healing children who have experienced trauma," said DCS Director Greg McKay. "We want to provide them with the tools to be successful, but we do not want the training to cause excessive disruptions to their lives. Our new training program accomplishes both of these goals."
After completing the online courses, potential foster parents still need to take 15 hours of in-class training.
Harry Atkins, the Department of Child Safety Training Administrator, explains why some of the classes still have to be done in person.
"It's not just a nine to five job,” Atkins says. “This is a 24-hour commitment so it's best to have that face to face contact and make that assessment."
If you’d rather, you can still take all of the classes in person.
So far in 2018, DCS says 3,920 individuals have enrolled in the program.
DCS expects to have 800 to 900 more families available to foster in 2018 than 2017.
That said, there are still more than 14,000 children in DCS custody, so more foster families are always needed.
"It takes an open heart, takes a lot of patience but it can be very rewarding at the end," Atkins said.
Here are some more notes from DCS about becoming a foster parent:
Who can become a foster parent?
- You can be single, married or in a relationship.
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- You and all adults living in your home must pass an FBI and local criminal background check and have a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card issued by the Department of Public Safety.
- You must be lawfully present in the U.S.: "Lawfully present" means you are a United States citizen or national or an alien authorized by an appropriate federal entity or court to be present in the United States.
What are the steps to becoming a foster parent?
- Successfully complete training. Foster parent pre-service training consists of 11 online courses and 15 hours of in-class instruction.
- Be medically qualified by a health professional. You will receive a form that will need to be completed by a doctor, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner.
- Be able to meet your living expenses.
- Participate in an extensive interview process. You will select a DCS contracted licensing agency to complete this interview, which is also known as a home study.
- Pass a home safety inspection. This inspection ensures the home is safe to place children.
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent can CLICK HERE.