Become a Foster Care or Adoptive Parent
Thank you for your interest in adoption and fostering through Stark County Job and Family Services, Children Services Division! We are excited to work with your family as you begin the process to become a foster and/or adoptive parent. Parenting is a big step and our job is to help your family every step of the way.
To be considered as a potential adoptive parent for a waiting child, you MUST have a completed and approved homestudy on file with an agency. Out of state homestudies are welcome!
Why We Need You
At times, there are events that happen in the lives of children that jeopardize their safety and well-being. It is sometimes necessary for those children to be removed from their home. If at all possible, SCJFS strives to place children with family members or friends prior to searching for a foster home. However, when this is not possible, placement in a foster home is needed. Currently, there is a great need for both foster and adoptive parents, and an even greater need for foster and adoptive parents who are willing to accept placement of teenagers, special needs children, sibling groups and minorities. SCJFS staff will help you to determine the type of child that best matches your family's interests and skills.
What is the difference between foster, foster to adopt and adopt only?
Foster-only and foster-to-adopt families obtain a license from the Ohio Job and Family Services. Both types of families may take children who are in the temporary or permanent custody of SCJFS into their home. The difference between these types of families is foster-to-adopt families have the ultimate goal of adoption. However, regardless of being foster-only or foster-to-adopt, your family is expected to work with SCJFS to reunify children with birth families.
An adopt-only family obtains an approval, with no license that needs renewed. Adopt-only families may only take children who are in the permanent custody of SCJFS into their home.
Please feel free to speak with our SCJFS Inquiry Specialist at (330) 451-8789 to determine what program will work best for you and your family.
The goal of foster care is to provide for physical, emotional and social needs of children in a "substitute" family setting until the natural family can be reunited or a permanent placement through adoption can be arranged. In doing so, it is also of necessity that you:
- provide for school attendance, monitor progress, and note special needs and accomplishments
- provide appropriate clothing
- attend to medical and dental needs
- help the child through the grieving and adjustment process that accompanies removal from their home and placement into your home
- cooperate with visitation and assist the child in preparing to return home or be moved to another foster or adoptive home
- maintain a lifebook, a record for the child of his/her time in your care, including developmental milestones, photographs, report cards, etc.
- provide consistent and realistic discipline and guidance that is age appropriate and abide by SCJFS's policy on discipline
- be part of a case review and meetings when asked, or attend court when needed
- provide transportation to visitation, counseling and other appointments
- comply with state regulations and agency policies and procedures as outlined in the foster parent manual
- provide recreational and enrichment activities that will provide the healthy development of children
If you have specific question regarding foster and adoptive parenting in Stark County, please call our foster/adoptive parent recruitment line at (330) 451-8789 or email us at STARK_CS_INQUIRY@odjfs.state.oh.us.
Foster/Adoptive parent General Requirements
You may apply to be a licensed foster/adoptive parent through Stark County JFS if you:
- Are at least 21 years of age
- Single adults with appropriate child care experience or couples living together for at least one year can apply.
- Able to provide proof of sufficient income to meet the needs of the household
- Complete BCI, FBI, and Children Services background checks with no prohibitive offenses
- Provide a safe and stable home for a child
- Complete 38 hours of Pre-service training. Click here to see a list of pre-service trainings available.
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all requirements to become a foster or adoptive parent.
SCJFS may not deny any person the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive caregiver on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the person, or of any foster child or children involved.
Stark County Job and Family Services, Children Services Division is committed to providing the highest quality of training for prospective foster and adoptive parents. All trainers are certified by the State of Ohio and possess the knowledge, experience and skills to teach and guide prospective foster and adoptive families.
PS1-S: Orientation and Overview
PS2-S: ODJFS Rules & Team Building
PS3-S: The Effects of Child Abuse/Neglect & Development
PS4-S: Attachment, Separation & Placement
PS5-S: Managing Behavior (Discipline)
PS6-S: Preventing & De-Escalating Crisis
PS7-S: Cultural Issues
PS8-S: Understanding Primary Families
PS9-S: Sexual Abuse
PS10-S: The Effects of Care giving
PS11-S: Permanency for Children
PS12-S: Permanency for Families
SCJFS Policies and Procedures
These Pre-service training sessions are mandatory to complete the foster and adoption licensure/approval process.
Q: How do foster children receive medical treatment?
A: Most foster children are eligible for the medical card, which covers all medical, dental, and prescription expenses. If the child in your home does not have a medical card on file, a medical authorization letter will be provided to you in case of necessary medical treatment. Any fees incurred through medical treatment will be paid for by presenting the child's medical card or medical authorization letter. Eligibility for the medical card for adopted children is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Are birth parents or other relatives permitted visitation with the children who are placed in my home?
A: Yes. Birth parents are permitted by state law to visit their children at least twice each month. There may also be visitation established for other relatives or siblings of the children who are in your home. Visitations will occur at SCJFS or other agreed upon locations. The child's worker is responsible for arranging visitations.
Q: Can I take foster children on vacation with me?
A: You are typically permitted to take foster children on vacation with you if you provide the child's worker notice, along with an address and telephone number of where you will be. If you will be traveling out of state, you must request premission to take foster children with you at least two weeks in advance.
Q: What is your policy on discipline?
A: SCJFS maintains a policy in which no physical discipline is permitted. In addition to physical discipline, foster parents are not permitted to threaten physical discipline, threaten the removal of children from your home, or threaten limited contact between your foster children and their biological families. As a foster parent, you are also not permitted to require nonproductive, strenuous labor of children, or prohibit children from participating in family activities.
Q: What is SCJFS's grievance policy?
A: SCJFS has a grievance policy which is used to review complaints from foster caregivers, guardians, legal parents, adoptive parents and children associated with or in the custody of SCJFS.
Q: Does SCJFS assist with daycare expenses for foster children?
A: You may be eligible for work-related daycare for foster children in your home, depending on your work schedule. Upon gaining licensure as a foster parent, you can apply for work-related daycare.
“ I would say the most rewarding experience of being a Foster/Adoptive parent is the progress that each child makes with a little attention and a lot of love. There is nothing better then hearing them tell you ‘I love you’ after three months earlier they said they hate you.”
~Jennifer (SCJFS foster and adoptive parent)
“I call this the hardest job I have ever had in my entire life. The rewards are awesome though, when you see the happiness on the children’s faces…It doesn’t take a lot of money to make these kids happy…It takes a lot of hugs, a lot of ‘It’s okay,’ and a lot of being a family.”
~Marge (SCJFS foster and adoptive parent)
“I didn’t think I would be able to handle this. Some days it seems overwhelming, but as the story goes… ‘A little boy was walking on a beach and saw millions of starfish stranded on the beach. One by one he began to throw them back into the water when a stranger yells to the boy, “You’re wasting your time! What does it matter…you can’t save them all.” The little boy replied, “It matters to this one”, as he threw it into the ocean.
~Greg (SCJFS foster and adoptive parent)