We are always looking for qualified foster parents to help take care of some of Westchester’s most vulnerable children. Currently, there are approximately 200 foster families who are part of Westchester’s foster parent network. However, more foster parents are needed to provide temporary homes for brothers and sisters being placed together, for medically fragile children, for babies and for children 10 years and older.
To begin the foster care process or to receive more information, call the United Way at 211 or (800) 899-1479 or answer the following questions and a United Way's 2-1-1 Representative will contact you.
If you are interested, here is some important information you should know.
What is foster care?
Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to live with their birth families.
Who are the children in care?
- Foster children represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers.
- When brothers and sisters come into care, we try to place them together.
- Some children may have handicapping conditions and need special care.
- Teenage mothers also need homes for themselves and their children.
- Foster children, like all children, need love, affection and guidance.
What foster parents do
A foster parent is someone who can provide temporary care and love for children who are unable to live with their birth families. A foster parent should be someone who:
- wants to make a difference in the life of a child
- can make room in their home and heart for children who need temporary care
- is flexible and capable of handling stressful situations
- can work as a member of a team with social workers and other professionals
- can help prepare a child for return to their birth family or to be adopted
Who can become a foster parent
You can apply to become a foster parent if you:
- are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit
- are married, single, or living with a partner
- have sufficient income to meet your own family’s needs
- are able to provide each child with his/her own bed although children can share a bedroom
Foster parent obligations and training
To become a foster parent with the Westchester County Department of Social Services, you will need to:
- attend an orientation session
- attend our training classes
- participate in a home study
- complete an application, a child abuse clearance form, and some other paper work
- provide personal references and current medical reports
What is a home study?
A home study usually consists of a series of interviews between a family and a social worker to help applicants think through their ability to foster parent a child with "special needs." It is important that people considering foster care be stable, sensitive, patient and capable of giving a child love and understanding. Social workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they become foster parents and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Interviews with husband and wife or a single foster parent are conducted by social workers. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.
Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, however, each child in foster care must have his or her own bed.
Can I afford to do this?
Foster parents receive a monthly care allowance to feed, clothe and meet the material needs of the children placed in their care. Extra compensation is available for special needs children.
Can I work and still be a foster parent?
Yes, as long as you provide adequate child care arrangements while you are at work. The Office of Children's' Services will consider reimbursing your day care expenses on an individual basis in specially approved situations.
Does my husband have to participate in the group process and the home study?
Yes, because you are both being certified to provide foster care.
Where are the children requiring care?
They may be at home with their families and may be placed emergently. They may be in short-term foster homes, group homes, residential treatment centers or hospitals.
Can I choose the age, sex, race, and the number of children I want?
Yes. You and your Foster Home Resource worker will work together to determine what types of children will best fit into your home.
What if my foster child gets sick?
Medical and dental coverage is provided through the New York State Medicaid program.
How many foster children can I parent?
You can care for up to six children, which include your own children under the age of 13, and no more than two children under the age of two. You and your home finder together will determine how many children you will be certified to foster parent.