Preparing for a Foster Care Home Study During Shelter-in-Place
Let’s talk about the foster care and adoption home study approval process and the coronavirus.
There’s no ignoring the news of the hour. The novel coronavirus is dominating headlines, and for good reason. Across the state of California, and around the world, sheltering-in-place has become the new normal. This has led to more hours in our homes than we’re typically accustomed, which can be both a good and challenging thing.
However, now is a great time to turn the reality of the moment into a positive, productive outcome. If you’ve ever thought of fostering or adopting a child or teen, this might be the perfect time to put that extra time at home to work for you. The final phase of the approval process involves a home study, and you can use this opportunity to prepare your home for a new family member.
Before we go any further, let’s review what a home study means in this context.
What is a Home Study?
A home study interview is the final step in the approval process of becoming a resource family (formerly called a foster family). After you have completed background checks and successfully filed all the necessary paperwork, a certifier will schedule two to three home study interviews with you and members of your household.
The home study is conducted to ensure that the resource family applicants are prepared for the rewarding, yet challenging role of fostering a child or teen. It is also a chance for our team to ensure that the home can provide a safe, welcoming environment that promotes a successful partnership with the child in foster care.
The best news?
It’s completely free to apply for and complete the foster care approval process with Uplift Family Services. You can get started today.START MY FOSTER CARE APPLICATION
Preparing for a Home Study Interview
The home study process is an assessment of your home and your preparedness to foster and/or adopt. It is also an opportunity to express your motivation for wanting to foster or adopt and discuss your child placement preferences with an Uplift Family Services team member.
You might be wondering, though, what are the different steps that will happen during the in-home visits and family interviews? That’s a great question.
We spoke with our resource family recruitment team to learn a few tips to prepare your family for the foster care and adoption home study approval. Here are the three steps involved in the home study process along with a few tips from our team.
The Initial Home Study Walkthrough
The first time we visit your home is to check the basics.
The certifier will address any safety concerns, confirm available living space, and provide suggestions and recommendations to meet licensing regulations and agency standards. They are also making sure the home is kid-friendly and would feel welcoming to a child who is moving in.
Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect! The Uplift Family Services staff member will provide any feedback or tips for improving safety and home readiness.
However, to be as prepared as possible, our team has a few suggestions. Since we’re in a shelter-in-place order, now might be the perfect time to perform a safety check of your home and dust off your toolbox to make any small adjustments.
- Address any safety hazards around your home like locking up prescription medications
- Make sure potentially dangerous items like cleaning supplies or knives are properly stored behind child-proof locks or other mechanisms to prevent easy access
- Assemble a first aid kit or make sure you know where yours is
- Double check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, if you haven’t recently
- Install safety locks on doors and areas where children shouldn’t have access, such as the utility closet or wherever power tools are stored
- Examine your home for anything else that could present danger to a child and think about how to remedy the area
A few small improvements can make for a smoother home approval process.
Family Member Interviews
The certifier will schedule individual interviews with each resource parent and any other member of the household, including other children or teens.
During these interviews, the Uplift Family Services certifier wants to get to know everyone in the household and understand why they are excited for a new member of the family. There will be several personal questions about things like your background, upbringing, childhood life, siblings, and current and previous relationships.
The certifier will also ask questions to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, the family’s financial situation, and your motivation for getting involved in foster care.
Don’t worry, these are just to get a more complete picture of the family and home life to place the right child or teen in your home. The most important piece of advice from the team is to simply relax and answer honestly. We want to lay the foundation for a lasting partnership and make sure we find a great match with a child or teen.
The Final Home Study Walkthrough
During the final home study walkthrough, the Uplift Family Services certifier will ensure that any suggestions or changes needed from the initial walkthrough have been implemented. This is also the final check for meeting licensing regulations for home safety.
You don’t have to worry about taking notes during the initial walk through. The certifier will take notes, complete a compliance memo with all the recommendations, and provide time to prepare your home for the final walk through.
How Has COVID-19 Changed the Home Study Process?
Like every business and organization, our agency has also been impacted by the coronavirus. The pandemic hasn’t slowed the need for resource parents or loving families for children and teens, though.
Last fall, we moved most of our application process online to add a level of convenience for families. This has allowed applications to continue without the need to meet in person to complete paperwork.
The biggest change so far has been how we conduct home walk-throughs and holding interviews over video calls. Our transition to telehealth has been instrumental in continuing to certify resource families and placing youth in foster care.
However, not everything can be done virtually.
We understand you may have concerns, but we have implemented safety measures to make in-person visits with the health of our team members and your family in mind. That way, we can continue to provide home study approvals and place children and youth with loving families.
Are you Ready for a Home Study?
It’s important to remember that performing a home study is not a guarantee of approval until the home study is completed. While rare, some families are not approved. But, a few small safety improvements around your home will go a long way toward becoming a resource family.
While we hope this information helps prepare you for your walkthrough, we will always have the safety and success of the child or teen in foster care foremost in our mind. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read our foster care FAQs or create a resource family account and an Uplift Family Services recruiter will get in touch to answer any questions you have.
START MY FOSTER CARE APPLICATION