Here are some frequently asked questions about being a foster 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 careforkids@cobys.org.

What types of foster and adoptive 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 we need families throughout Lancaster County and the surrounding area. The COBYS coverage area generally includes a radius of one hour driving distance to our Murry Hill Center (444 Murry Hill Circle, Lancaster, PA 17601), from southern Lancaster County into parts of Berks, Lebanon, Schuylkill and York counties.

What is the possibility of a foster child being adopted?

All children adopted through COBYS’ SWAN program begin as foster children. When children come into foster care, the goal is almost always reunification. Children belong with their biological families when deemed safe and appropriate. In the case that children cannot return home, the courts will look towards the resource parents for adoption. Resource parents can state their interest in adoption as a foster-to-adopt family upon entrance into the COBYS program or any time throughout their foster care service. 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?

The most effective foster parents build positive relationships with their foster children’s birth parents and become a source of encouragement to them. Foster parents and birth parents can 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, unless otherwise decided by the foster family and biological family.

What are my transportation responsibilities?

Foster 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, however multiple times a week is common in order to maintain that familial connection.

What are my financial responsibilities?

For all children placed with COBYS, the foster 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. Foster 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 support services provided?

Support services such as 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 foster family through monthly home visits and regular phone or e-mail contacts. COBYS also provides Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) trainings, masters-level resource parent educators, resident children workshops, and ongoing “booster” trainings to increase knowledge and added supports for foster parents.

What if a foster child doesn’t adjust well to our home?

In an effort to ensure there are as few moves in the child’s life as possible, support services are regularly provided to help meet the needs of the foster child and foster family. If there is concern for the child’s safety, or the safety of the foster family, an alternative placement will be found.

As a Christian organization, what kind of expectations does COBYS place on its foster 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.

[Foster care] is a nice way to give a child a safe home for a season, and share our Christian faith, a good positive family role model, and fun memories.

– COBYS Resource Parents Dennis & Ann