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fostering family connections booklet-2019

Family Connections
Email: Felicia@nfapa.org
What is the Philosophy of NDHHS?
Finding special
families for
special kids
Our ultimate goal is ensure the safety permanence, well-being and
stability of children regardless if the child is living with their
biological family or in out of home care.
When a child is in care, our goal whenever possible is to reunify the
child with their family in a timely manner.
When reunification is not possible we ensure that the child has a
permanent, legal home with caring adults in as short a time frame
as possible.
We have a commitment to kinship care as a first option for
permanent care-giving.
When we have siblings in our care, our goal is to place the children
together or in very close proximity to maintain their connections
and relationships.
We make decisions based on safety, permanence and child wellbeing. When there is a difference of opinion about how those are
best achieved we welcome and embrace these differences as they
enhance the quality of the decision.
We provide the necessary services, supports, information, training
and resources to ensure that children have as few placements as
There is a respectful relationship between the agency staff,
resource family and the child’s family.
Both the birth family and the resource family have a high degree of
knowledge on the needs of the child and their own family, we deem
this support as critical in the case planning process.
We view resource families as members of the professional team
with clear rights and responsibilities.
We will have clear and honest dialogue with the child’s family and
resource families.
We support both cultural and relationship continuity with siblings,
families, and those with whom the child has a connection-this
evolves over time and we are responsive to changing
The resource family has a role in supporting the child’s
connections and cultural continuity. This must occur throughout
the life of a child.
We promote the relationship between the resource family and the
child’s family to best meet the needs of the child at all stages of
the child’s life.
We practice full disclosure and inclusive decision making-including
the child in a manner that they can understand.
We involve resource families and other community partners in the
process of recruiting and retaining resource families.
Who are
Resource Parents?
Resource families are foster and
adoptive families, relatives or
caregivers who share parenting
with the child’s family as the
Nebraska Department of Health
and Human Services (NDHHS)
seek to find permanence, safety
and stability for the child. These
families are willing to provide a
permanent connection for the
child whether or not the child
Resource families play an active
role in linking the child to their
past as well as guiding their
Resource parents afford an
opportunity for families to rebuild
their lives while providing a safe,
stable home for their children.
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
What is Foster Care and Adoption?
Foster care is a protective service to children and their families.
The children are provided with a safe, nurturing, loving family in a
resource (foster) home for a temporary period of time. Parents of
these children receive services and support in working toward
reunification. The primary goal of foster care is reunification.
Resource families help children and their families achieve this goal
through shared parenting. Resource parenting is not a lifetime
commitment to a child and his or her family, but a commitment to
be meaningful in the child and family’s lifetime.
Adoption is the legal relationship between a child and parent who
are not related by birth. The child is afforded the same legal status
in the family as a biological child and can inherit from the family
and receive survivor’s benefits. The parent/child relationship
continues into adulthood. Adoption is a commitment that comes
from having a family of your own and is intended to last a lifetime.
It is important to keep in mind that Nebraska’s child welfare
system, NDHHS, is interested in reunifying children with their
families. One of the guiding principles and values is that all
children are entitled to grow up with their own parents whenever
possible and when it is in their best interest.
Why Do Children and
Youth Enter Foster
There are many reasons and
circumstances that make it
difficult for families to meet the
needs of their children. They
include poverty, homelessness,
loss of a job, illness, mental
illness, substance abuse, lack of
support from extended family
and community, and status
offense of youth which can
consistently truant from school if
under age 16 and law violations.
All of us, must work together to
support children and their
families through these difficult
times. We are best able to help
by providing support and
Resource Parent Role
Resource parenting is more than
providing a home for children. It is
an acceptance of the child, his or
her problems and fears, as well as
the child’s ability or inability to love.
It is working in partnership with
NDHHS in healing the child’s
wounds (whether physical or
emotional) and caring for the
child’s daily needs. And when the
time comes, it is preparing the
child for return to his or her parents
or relatives, for adoption or
independent living.
The roles and responsibilities of
resource parenting to a child living
in foster care include:
 Provide 24-hour care and
supervision on a daily basis;
 Ensure that medical treatment
and preventative medical care
are received;
 Maintain medical, school, and
personal records;
 Monitor school attendance
visiting with school personnel
when necessary;
 Provide and arrange for
appointments, to & from
 Provide replacement clothing;
 Respect
a child’s
religious beliefs and culture;
 Encourage and model good
personal hygiene habits;
 Enhance self-image through
communication, affection, and
the use of appropriate
 Assist the child in preparing to
return home or adjust to
another permanent living
Who are the Children
Living in Foster Care?
Approximate 3000 children are
living in Nebraska’s foster care
system. These children include:
 Teenagers.
 Sibling groups who want to
remain together.
 Minority and multiracial children.
 Those who have emotional and
behavioral issues.
 Those who are physically,
mentally, or developmentally
All of these children need
resource families to provide love,
stability, and permanency.
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
Why be a foster parent to a teenager?
Becoming a teenager’s foster parent does have its own special rewards. With foster care, you can help an older
child prepare for adulthood. By fostering a teen, you can share experiences with them in your home, such as
family courtesy, family values and interpersonal skills that can last a lifetime. These skills can help them make a
safe, loving and healthy transition to independence and adulthood!
Can a teenager really benefit from foster care?
Absolutely! People benefit from safety, security and caring, no matter what their age. Different ages bring different
developmental needs. Remember, the teen years particularly are filled with decision making about grades,
careers, friends, body changes, smoking, cars, sex, and possibly even drugs. Providing a temporary home to a
teenager is not the same as raising your own. By becoming a foster parent to a teen, you can:
 Provide an environment where open communication can benefit the teen as well as the foster family.
Communication skills can be the key to becoming a successful citizen;
 Provide a safe environment for personal growth;
 Enhance and nurture his or her self-esteem;
 Assist in his or her personal growth, leading a teen to become self-sufficient; and
 Be a family to a teen, by modeling behavior and helping develop sound morals and values
Many teenagers placed in foster care through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS)
System have had difficult experiences with family and situations which will impact their behavior. But it is these
teens that truly need the guidance and support that foster parents can provide.
Teens can be tough to raise. Is there any support for me if I run into problems?
Yes. The NDHHS System recognizes the importance of foster parents to the children they raise.
 Your foster teenager may be eligible for financial assistance for food, clothing and transportation; medical
and dental care; legal services; counseling; and other assistance.
 Payment may be available to families or individuals who can provide short breaks—respite care—for other
foster parents for a week, a weekend or even just overnight.
 Peer support is available through the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. You’ll be able to
network with other foster parents throughout the state via local support groups and in-service trainings.
Homes for Teenagers Needed
Consider caring for a teenager. While caring for a teenager will never be stress-free, it does have its own special
rewards. Resource families are needed to make a commitment to help a teenager become successful adults.
What does a teen need from their resource families?
Time spent to form a solid relationship.
Love and firm commitment.
Clear and consistent discipline.
Nurturing, positive attitude.
Healthy environment.
A sense of belonging in the family.
Family routine and structure.
Patience, trust and respect.
Honesty and kindness.
Good sense of humor.
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of training is
required to become a resource
All resource parents must
successfully complete a preservice training. This free
training is offered throughout
Nebraska at a variety of times
during the year. Prospective
resource parents learn about the
foster care system, foster
children, and the skills needed to
be a resource parent. Most
participants report that the class
not only gives them valuable
insights into foster care, but also
information they can use with
their own children.
What are the basic
requirements to become a
licensed resource parent?
Resource parents must be 19
years of age, and be a married
couple or a single person
residing alone or with a relative.
We want to ensure that your
home is safe and free from
structural or health hazards, your
physical and mental health must
be sufficient to provide care for
children in need, and you must
pass all local, state, and federal
background checks.
How long does the foster care
license/adoption approval
process take?
Both the foster care license and
special needs adoption approval
background checks, reference
checks, the pre-service training,
and completion of a home study.
The entire process takes place
over a period of several months.
May I specify the age and
gender of the children I would
prefer to care for?
Throughout the process, you will
be asked about the age, gender,
and special needs of children
you are willing to foster or adopt.
Once you are a licensed
resource parent, you will receive
a call from a worker describing
the child(ren) needing a foster
home. If you do not feel
comfortable caring for the
child(ren) described, you simply
decline the placement.
If I take the pre-service
training, am I obligated to
become a foster parent?
No. Pre-service training is
designed to help prospective
resource parents decide whether
something they wish to pursue.
There is no obligation to become
a resource parent after taking
the training.
If I decide to become a
resource parent, who will be
there to help me when I have
Resource parents are welcome
to contact the Nebraska Foster
and Adoptive Parent Association
(NFAPA) at 877-257-0176 or
visit the organization’s website at
www.nfapa.org for a list of
available mentors.
I am related to a child who is
in the foster care system and
would like to be considered as
their resource family. What do
I do?
You need to contact the child’s
Child and Family Service Worker
and inform of your interest in
being considered as a resource
family for the child. The worker
will be able to answer your
questions and let you know what
options are available.
Can I adopt my foster child?
While the primary goal of foster
care is reunification of the child
with his or her family, some
children cannot safely return
home. When this happens,
NDHHS will develop an alternate
permanency plan for the child,
which may include adoption.
Can I adopt a child from
another state?
It is possible to adopt a child
from another state, but it is
necessary to complete the
requirements for special needs
adoption in Nebraska before you
can be considered for a child
from another state. Most states
have requirements similar to
Nebraska such as background
checks, training and a home
I’m not sure I can be a full-time
resource parent. Is there any
other way I can help?
Yes. The foster care system
needs families who offer a
variety of services to children
living in foster care. These needs
range from respite care allowing
resource parents to take a break
to mentoring a child. The
Nebraska Foster and Adoptive
Parent Association will help
guide you to all available
Is the Nebraska Foster and
Adoptive Parent Association
(NFAPA) involved in the
placement of children or the
licensing process?
No, NDHHS & Child Welfare
Agencies are responsible for
licensing all resource families
and for placement of Nebraska’s
foster and adoptive children.
NFAPA is a private nonprofit
organization who partners with
NDHHS to support resource
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
The Five Steps to Becoming a Resource Parent
Each local area of Nebraska
has developed its own process
for becoming a resource parent
based on the community, its
needs, and its resources.
These steps will give you a
general idea of what you can
expect to be included:
Step 1: Learn about foster
care and special needs
The Nebraska Foster and
Adoptive Parent Association
will answer questions you
informational packet about
resource parenting, and give
you the name of a local person
who will be contacting you in
the future to learn more about
the needs of children and
youth living in foster care.
The informational packet may
include an application for you
to complete. The signed
application allows for complete
local, state, and federal record
checks on anyone living in your
home that is 18 years of age
and older. Additional record
checks include the Central
Registry for Child and Adult
Protective Services. Some
additional forms may include a
instructions to draw a floor plan
of your home. This information
will be turned in to a worker
during your home study.
Step 2: Attend Pre-service
If you are married, you and
your spouse must attend the
training. There is no cost to
you for this training and it is
held at various locations
Attending the training does not
obligate you to further pursue
foster care or special needs
adoption if you do not feel it is
right for you.
Study 3: Complete the home
study process.
All resource parents and their
families will participate in a
home study process. A worker
will be assigned to complete
your home study. During
interviews, you will be asked to
talk about your parenting style,
your life experiences and how
they affect you, your sense of
family, your expectations for a
child, the reasons you want to
foster or adopt, and your ability
to adjust your family style to
include a new family member.
licensing process.
The licensing process allows
for health and safety factors
and ensuring your home has
space for additional family
Step 5: Receive a placement.
After the home study and
completed, you may receive a
call regarding a child who is in
need of a placement. The
worker will discuss information
about this child with you and
you will have the opportunity to
make a decision about whether
or not you will be able to take
this placement.
The five steps to becoming a
resource parent allow for
prospective families in order to
safeguard children and avoid
multiple placements of the
children in care. The focus of
NDHHS is on finding the best
possible family for a child.
Foster a Future - One Child at a Time.
1-800-7 PARENT
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
Pre-Service Objectives
The specific objectives of pre-service training are to help resource parents:
Discuss realistic expectations of themselves and the agency;
Identify their strengths and needs in fostering or adopting;
Develop a plan to build on strengths and meet needs;
Make an informed decision about their willingness and ability to work together to
connect children with safe and nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime;
Learn the purpose and goals of the foster care and adoption program, and its
relationship to other child welfare services;
Learn the laws, regulations, policies and values that direct the foster care and
adoption systems;
Obtain realistic information about the needs and strengths of children and their
families who need foster care and adoption services;
Learn about the role of resource parents as effective and essential members of a
professional team, including expectations, responsibilities, rights, risks, and
Learn the differences between resource parenting regarding attachment,
commitment, relationship with the children’s families, expectations,
responsibilities, supports and lifelong impact;
Learn about the diversity of families;
Learn about resource parent information and support systems.
Names, Phone Numbers, & E-mail Addresses
Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association, 402-476-2273, 877-257-0176, Felicia@nfapa.org
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
Consider Fostering Siblings
Federal law mandates that whenever possible siblings should stay together. The sibling
relationship is the longest relationship that people have. Sometimes it can be difficult working
with sibling strips when one for the children has become the “parentified” child. This is a child
that has taken care of the younger siblings and often times, even taken care of the parents
themselves. Can you help a child learn to be a child? Often times in foster care, siblings must
be split up because there is not enough room in a foster home to take large sibling strips.
When that happens, many times, children remain apart. Consider keeping your home open to
only taking sibling strips of children.
National Foster Care Statistics
There are around 400,000 children in foster care across the U.S.
65% to 85% of children entering the foster care system have at least one sibling
30% of the children have 4 or more siblings
75% of siblings end up apart when they enter foster care
Three out of four children placed in foster care are separated from at least one sibling
Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association
3601 N. 25th Street
Suite D
Lincoln, NE 68521
Visit the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association at www.nfapa.org
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