Foster parents are individuals or married couples who complete the steps to become licensed to serve as caretakers for foster children. They work with birth families and hope changes are made that will allow the children to return to a safe home. Foster parents may choose to adopt the children if this is not possible.
These families provide a safe and stable environment for children who may be experiencing stress and trauma from recent life changes. They receive a monthly reimbursement to help offset the cost of caring for children. Social workers visit the home on a regular basis to provide services and support to the children and family.
Foster/Adoptive Parenting Information
Am I eligible to become a Foster Parent?
Mississippi Foster Parents are people who:
- Are legal Mississippi residents.
- Can pass a criminal background check.
- Are at least 21 years old.
- May be legally married or legally single.
- Have no more than four children living in the home.
- Are financially self-supporting.
Foster/Adoption Application (Single) – Please complete this form if you are single. You will need to provide your name and an email address to sign your completed application. Thank you for your interest in becoming a Foster/Adoptive Family.
Foster/Adoption Application (Married) – Please complete this application if you are married. Both individuals will need to sign the application. Please provide a different email address for each individual. After the first individual signs the completed form, an email will be sent to the second individual requesting a signature for completion of the form. Thank you for your interest in becoming a Foster/Adoptive Family.
What should I know about Foster Parenting?
The goal for most children in foster care is to be reunited with their parents. Foster families work with birth parents to achieve this goal. The length of time a child will stay with you depends on many factors. It could be for a few days, a few months, or much longer. It is important to note that medical and dental costs are covered for children in foster care. Teens in foster care are eligible for programs to help them learn life skills and may be eligible for some college financial assistance.
Different types of Foster Care:
- Emergency/Respite Care: A child may be in need of short-term placement for various reasons. Respite care is available when Fesource Parents need a break for a short period of time, become ill, or have an emergency. Also, some children need to be quickly placed in a safe home until a more long-term placement can be arranged.
- Regular Foster Care: Regular care entails a family home where a child will live as part of the family until the birth family is reunited with the child or the child is freed for adoption.
- Therapeutic Foster Care: Some children need more specialized care due to medical, emotional, or developmental issues. Therapeutic Foster Parents obtain a special license that certifies their ability to care for children with special needs. This license is granted through private agencies. MDCPS can assist you in finding a local therapeutic provider.
Questions to ask yourself:
How is caring for a foster child different from caring for my own child? In many ways it is the same. Foster children need to know that you will be there for them no matter what. Foster children may have different experiences than your own children and need an additional level of care. They need you to teach them new skills, help them cope with new experiences, and support them through the transition of being in foster care.
Will I be “rescuing” a child from an abusive or neglectful parent? Many people may believe the child will be grateful and relieved to be out of their home situation. This is rarely the case. The child’s situation is normal to him or her, and being separated from family can be traumatic and stressful. Children often need time to establish trust.
What about children who have been neglected or physically, sexually, or mentally abused? These children can be angry, resentful, and sad. They may act out or take it out on their foster family. The agency provides training to help foster parents work with these situations. Are you able to help teach children alternative ways to cope with stress while not taking their words and actions personally?
Are you willing to have social workers come into your home? Can you work in a partnership with a team of professionals to help the child either get back home or to another permanent placement such as adoption? This requires excellent communication skills as a parent and a commitment to follow the plan set forth by the social worker, agency, and courts.
What types of children can you parent at this time? Consider the age and gender of a child. You will be given choices on what behaviors and special needs you feel you can or cannot parent at this time. Be aware that the agency is not always aware of a child’s behaviors at the time of placement. Also know that children meeting your specifications may not be in immediate need of placement.
Could I be a successful Foster Parent?
- Do you have current or previous experience parenting or working with children?
- Do you have the time and willingness to be involved in the life of a child?
- Do you feel comfortable providing care for a child who may have been raised in an abusive or unstable environment and needs time to establish trust?
- Do you feel comfortable helping a child emotionally cope with life changes?
- Are you able to provide consistent, loving, and stable parenting to children who may test boundaries?
Who are the children most in need of stable foster homes?
- Sibling groups (of three or more children)
- Children who have been sexually abused
- Children with psychological/developmental issues
- Children who need to be taught new coping mechanisms (children who act out aggressively or sexually)
- Children with medical needs
- Pregnant girls and/or teen mothers
- Sexually active children
How do I learn more?
Contact 1-800-821-9157 to inquire about becoming a Foster Parent and to request an MDCPS application and/or additional information about private providers.
The following are a few of the training opportunities for resource families.
Foster Home Board Payment
Foster Home/Facility Licensure
Licensed Care Facility Abuse
Law: Mississippi Code
The Mississippi Child Care Licensing Law governs the licensing of child care facilities. Referenced Statutes: Mississippi Code of 1972 – Sections 43-15-1, 43-15-5, 43-15-7, 43-15-9, 43-15-105, 43-15-107, 43-15-111, 43-15-113, 43-15-115, 43-15-117, 43-15-119, 43-15-123, 43-16-3, 43-16-7 and Sections 43-20-1 through 43-20-21.
The goal of placement shall be to strengthen, repair, and reunify the family. Licensing is a type of regulatory process geared toward reducing risks and thereby providing protection for persons who may use the service.
What Is the Basis for Licensing?
The basis for the licensing of residential child caring facilities is vested with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services. The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services shall have the authority and duty to administer and supervise the licensing and inspection of all private child-placing and residential child-caring facilities, for the care of dependent and neglected children in foster family homes, in addition to maintaining the staff/child ratio.
What Facilities Must Be Licensed?
All facilities not required to register under the Residential Child Notification Act, Mississippi Code 1972, Sections 43-16-1 through 43-16-23, shall be licensed by the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, provided minimum requirements have been met.
Need for Protection
In an effort to protect children, it is sometimes deemed necessary to arrange alternate living care. The protection of these children and assurance that they are cared for are the primary responsibilities of the state.
Enforcement of licensing standards is the responsibility of the licensing staff, provided a facility is MDCPS-licensed. Without enforcement, the state’s responsibility for protecting children has no basis.
All residential child caring facilities are required to be chartered.
Inquirers regarding licensing are not encouraged to apply for a license until they have reviewed Licensing Standards regarding the services they propose to offer and about licensing regulations governing the provision of those services.
Licensing Study for Child-Placing Agencies
The initial licensing study for child-placing agencies requires a review of office space and equipment, and emphasis is given to staffing, program policies, and organization. It is not always possible to measure these services until the agency has been in operation for a certain period of time.
Licensing Study for Residential Child Care
The initial licensing study for residential child care is more complex. The process from initial planning, fundraising, and staffing may take a year or longer. Occasionally, rules pertaining to the physical facilities site may require several on-site visits.
Licensing Standards for residential child-caring and child-placing agencies require the licensee to submit an application for re-licensure at least 60 days before expiration date of the current license. When a timely reapplication is submitted, the current license remains in effect until the state licensor issues or denies the request for re-licensure. Once the minimum requirements have been met, the license is issued.
The primary purpose of monitoring is to review areas previously noted as weak or deficient, to follow up on complaints, or to make routine checks of previously cited violations.
Review of Records
There are two types of files that facilities are required to maintain:
- Each personnel file must contain professional credentials, four letters of reference (one former employer and three personal), yearly performance evaluations, criminal background check, and MDCPS Central Registry check.
- Each resident file should contain a court order, placement agreement, educational records, treatment plan, current medical report, and individual service/case plan.
Consultation given by licensing staff falls into three categories:
- Methods for coming into compliance.
- Improvement of services above the required regulations.
- Assisting the licensee by making referrals to sources of information in other departments.
Negative Licensing Action
Negative licensing action will not come as a surprise to applicants or licensees, as they will be apprised of any and all action(s) that will be taken against them.
The licensing staff is responsible for determining the reasons and merits for any request for a waiver, alternative ways to comply, and, more importantly, potential adverse effects on children.
Types of Services
There are currently three types of services under licensure:
- Emergency shelter (short-term, full-time care for children over 30-45 days).
- Long-term residential care for children requiring more intensive services by professional staff.
- Residential care for children who are not able to return home to their families.
Every person/organization whose activities are regulated through licensing requirements has the right to a notice of the requirements, noncompliance, information for correcting areas of noncompliance, and a reasonable time frame for coming into compliance. Each agency/person has the right to a fair hearing.
Licensing requirements will be enforced equally for all MDCPS-licensed agencies.
The Child Residential Home Notification Act/Registration of Unlicensed Residential Homes
Unlicensed residential facilities are required to submit a monthly report to the Mississippi State Department of Health, Division of Child Care Facilities Licensure.