Here are some frequently asked questions about being a resource family. If you don’t find the answer to your question or have a specific situation to discuss, feel free to contact a COBYS Resource Home Coordinator at 717-656-6580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who are the children?
Children are placed into foster care because they cannot safely stay with their biological family. They are between the ages of 0 to 18 when they are placed into foster care, but can decide to stay in foster care up to age 21. There are children of all racial and ethnic groups and of various religions. Some are placed individually, but many are part of a sibling group. Some children have mental or behavioral health needs, or special medical needs. All children must cope with grief and loss due to the separation from their biological family and with the impact of their parents’ issues that contributed to their placement. Parental addiction, homelessness, untreated mental health issues, lack of parenting skills or supervision, and truancy can be contributing factors to the abuse and neglect that children experience.
What role does COBYS play?
COBYS Family Services is affiliated with the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). As a SWAN affiliate, COBYS is part of a network of public and private organizations that share a common goal of providing permanent homes in a timely fashion for Pennsylvania’s foster children. COBYS assists families and children who already are part of the COBYS program, as well as new families who are interested in pursuing adoption through foster care. Our role is to prepare children and families for adoption, facilitate the legal process, and provide support both before and after the adoption. All COBYS resource families are dually certified for foster care and adoption so children can be placed into pre-adoptive homes before parental rights are terminated. Before serving as foster parents, adoptive parents, or respite parents, families are required to attend an orientation session and complete a 27-hour pre-service training. Orientations are offered twice a month at Murry Hill Center.
What types of foster and adoptive resource families are needed?
Various types of families are needed, including married or single persons, families with or without biological children, and families with or without a stay-at-home caregiver. Our greatest need is for families willing to parent teens, sibling groups, minority children, and medically fragile children. In order to allow children to remain in their home school districts, families especially are needed from the following areas: Lancaster City, Reading, York, Columbia, and Ephrata.
Can I specify what type of children I wish to foster or adopt?
Resource families may specify preferences for age, gender, race, number of children, and willingness to care for children with special needs. However, the more specific the preferences, the longer the time that may be needed to match families with children. Most children placed specifically for adoption through COBYS are older than age eight.
What is the possibility of a foster child being adopted?
All children adopted through COBYS’ SWAN program begin as foster children. The longer a child remains in foster care, the greater the possibility of the child being placed for adoption. Resource parents can state their interest in adoption upon entrance into the COBYS program, and efforts are made to place potentially pre-adoptive children with families who desire to adopt. COBYS’ outcomes reflect that between 20 and 25 percent of children that are placed with COBYS’ foster care program are adopted by their resource family.
How long are most foster children in foster care?
Foster children generally remain in care between six months and two years. Birth families typically receive 15 months to correct the issues that led to the child’s placement in foster care. At any point, a foster child may transition to the care of an approved kinship resource in order to allow the child to reside with their family.
How much will we interact with our foster child’s birth parents?
Resource parents and birth parents have regular contact with each other at visitation, medical/dental appointments, and court hearings. If reunification is unable to occur and parental rights are terminated, court-ordered contact between the two sets of families ceases. The most effective resource parents build positive relationships with their foster children’s birth parents and become a source of encouragement to them.
What are my transportation responsibilities?
Resource parents are responsible for transporting children to all appointments and visits. Most foster children have court-ordered, supervised visits with biological family members a minimum of once a week. Resource parents provide transportation to and from these visits.
What are my financial responsibilities?
For all children placed with COBYS, the resource family receives a per diem reimbursement for living expenses, which includes clothing and transportation. Medical, dental, prescription, and mental health care coverage is provided by the County Children and Youth agency. Resource families are responsible for any costs associated with their approval process, including background checks, furnishing their home to accommodate children, and any home improvements needed to meet home safety requirements.
How much does it cost to adopt a child through COBYS?
Adoption of children in Pennsylvania’s foster care system is heavily subsidized to encourage timely permanency for children. In most cases adoptions are finalized with little or no cost to the adoptive family. Most children are eligible to receive ongoing adoption assistance until age 18.
If I decide I want to adopt, must I complete additional training?
COBYS’ pre-service training process prepares resource families to foster and adopt children. No separate adoption training is necessary.
Are counseling services provided?
Counseling for foster children is covered by their health insurance. The child’s caseworker will make referrals for the child to receive appropriate mental health services. Caseworkers provide support to the resource family through monthly home visits and regular phone or e-mail contacts.
What if a foster child doesn’t adjust well to our home?
Support services are provided to help meet the needs of the foster child and resource family. If a resource family still is unable to meet the foster child’s needs, an alternative placement will be found.
As a Christian organization, what kind of expectations does COBYS place on its resource families?
COBYS desires that resource families seek to meet the physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of foster children. Full participation in the life of a church community is strongly encouraged.
[Pre-service training] opened up a wide range of topics that were quite applicable to our current life as foster parents. Training was very helpful as it made us more aware of the complexities that can arise when dealing with children (and birth parents) from difficult situations. We really liked hearing other foster families come in and discuss their experiences. – COBYS Resource Parents Austin and Cathy