One Couple's Journey: The Foster Care Process in Iowa

If you're reading this post sometime after September 2013, please note that we are no longer licensed foster and adoptive parents in the state of Iowa. Our blog began in 2011, and this is the very first post. What started as a simple way to let our family and friends know about our journey as foster parents, morphed into something bigger. Our blog has taken a new focus, which is sustainable, self-sufficient living for people who aspire to be homesteaders - wherever that may be. Regardless, enjoy this post, which details our initial experiences in becoming licensed foster and adoptive parents in Iowa. 

Many of our friends and family have lots of great questions regarding the foster care certification process J and I are involved in. Here's what we've done so far and can continue to expect over the next few months:

Orientation Session: At the end of March J and I attended an informational session with the fostering organization we're using. We learned some startling statistics regarding state foster care and adoption that really solidified that this was the right choice for us. J and I also filled out all of our legal documents for background checks, applications, and more. There was a LOT of paperwork. We were also fingerprinted for our background checks.

Waiting: We had to wait about 2 weeks for our background check results. Good news - we're clean! The very next day we called the fostering organization to register for PS-MAPP classes for the end of April to the end of June. (There will be more waiting at the end of this process, too!)

PS-MAPP classes: Once a week we attend a 3-hour class regarding an aspect of foster care that we are likely to encounter. The PS-MAPP training is 10 weeks long, and is required for all state adoptive or foster parents. It's free of charge to us (actually, this whole process requires no financial investment on our behalf), but we cannot miss a single class. If we do, we start must start over.

Social Worker visits: At the same time as we have our 10 weeks of training we will be assigned a social worker to complete a Home Study. He or she will schedule visits to our home twice, and will come once unannounced. During the social worker visits our home will be inspected, and any physical areas of concern will be addressed. The social worker will also interview us, our friends and our family. This is so he/she can create an in-depth family profile to be used to match children for our home. This is the most detailed part of the process, from what we understand. Also, this is one of the most important parts of the certification process, because if we don't pass this Home Study, we don't become certified.

Waiting for a placement: After we complete our PS-MAPP training and are approved from our Home Study, we simply wait for a phone call. Members of the fostering organization will call us when a child matches the profile we've created. It may be weeks or months before we meet a child's needs. Yes, it is the needs of the child that determine where they are placed, not what we are "looking for". When a child is placed with us, we may have them for as little as a few days, or something more long-term, depending on the situation.

As you can see, the process isn't as simple as throwing clean sheets on a bed and buying more toilet paper. While we've committed a lot of our personal time to becoming foster care certified, J and I are confident we'll be able to provide a great home for a child in need - and that's really what it's all about. We have a lot of "thanks" to give our family and friends who've provided us emotional support and guidance so far!

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