How to Become a Foster Parent in Illinois

Requirements for Becoming a Foster Parent

All foster parents at Kaleidoscope must acquire a license from the State of Illinois. To learn more about the specific requirements, you can visit the DCFS website. Kaleidoscope also conducts free orientations regularly, where our knowledgeable staff provides an overview of the requirements and addresses any questions. Upcoming orientation dates can be found on our website.

Reasons for Children Being in Foster Care

When there is evidence of abuse or neglect that necessitates the removal of a child from their caregiver, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will assume custody and guardianship of the child.

Home Requirements for Foster Care

In order for a foster child to live with you, your home must meet the licensing standards outlined by DCFS. These standards cover various aspects, including appropriate sleeping arrangements, nutrition and meals, and the physical requirements of the home, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A licensing specialist will conduct a comprehensive review of your home, background, and qualifications to ensure compliance with the state’s licensing standards.

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Responsibilities of a Foster Parent

As a foster parent, your responsibilities extend beyond meeting the day-to-day needs of a child. You will also play a crucial role in helping the child heal from their traumas. Along with providing safety, supervision, support, and structure, we encourage foster parents to exhibit qualities such as playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy towards the children in their care. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Providing full-time care for foster children in your home.
  • Arranging and facilitating transportation for family visits and appointments.
  • Ensuring the foster child has their own bedroom.
  • Meeting all licensing standards as defined by DCFS.
  • Following the rules and procedures set by Kaleidoscope policy.
  • Respecting and maintaining the confidentiality of foster children and their families.
  • Completing the required training hours for licensure.

A complete list of foster parent responsibilities will be discussed during the orientation, training, and licensure processes.

Duration of Foster Care Placement

Ideally, once a child is placed in your home, they will remain with you until their permanency goal is achieved. This goal could involve returning home, being adopted, or having a guardianship established. The length of time to achieve these goals varies for each child.

Contact with the Birth Family

Kaleidoscope strongly encourages and facilitates communication between a foster child, their foster parent, and their biological parent, unless court restrictions apply. We believe that co-parenting between foster parents and biological parents leads to the best outcomes for the child.

Number of Children Placed in Your Home

The number of children placed in your home depends on factors such as your home’s physical capacity, clinical capacity, and the current makeup of your family. We also take into consideration the interests and preferences of the foster family.

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Services Needed by Foster Children

Foster children may require a range of services, including therapy or counseling, psychiatric services, special educational assistance, and mentorship or tutoring. There may also be other community services that can be beneficial.

Differences Between Raising a Foster Child and a Biological Child

While some responsibilities are similar, such as providing a safe and nurturing environment and integrating the child into your family, there are some additional responsibilities unique to fostering. These include active participation in the child’s treatment plan, cooperation with their permanency goal, and being part of the foster care team. Foster parent training covers these dynamics and more.

Seeking Support and Assistance

Kaleidoscope believes in a team approach to foster care. Foster parents work closely with a designated Foster Care Specialist, who is supported by their supervisor, licensing staff, and other specialists such as therapists, vocational specialists, and agency nurses, as needed.

Licensing Process Timeline

Once you submit your application, Kaleidoscope will conduct the interview process within 14 days. Our aim is to complete the licensing process within 3 to 4 months from the submission of your application.

Timeline for Placement of a Foster Child

The process of matching a child with a family varies for each case. Our staff works closely with you to ensure that your family’s strengths align with the needs of the child. Placement decisions are made through ongoing dialogue and collaboration between foster parents and our staff. The time frame for placement depends on factors such as the age-range preferences, clinical considerations, and the compatibility of the foster home and family.

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Age Range of Foster Children

Kaleidoscope provides foster care services for children from birth to age 21, with a particular need for foster homes for teenagers. The average age of youth in our care is 12 years old. During the licensure process, foster parents can express their preferences regarding children’s age and special needs. We match children with families based on their strengths and the family’s comfort level. However, we may also contact families regarding children who are older or have different needs if we believe the family can provide strong support and nurturing.

Training for Licensed Foster Parents

If you have completed the DCFS PRIDE training within the past two years, you will not need to repeat it. However, you will need to complete Kaleidoscope’s Pre-Service training, which consists of four clinical training modules totaling 18 hours.

Transferring Your License to Kaleidoscope

To transfer your license, Kaleidoscope will work with you to obtain access to your current licensing file and ensure that all documentation and references are up to date. In addition, you will need to complete Kaleidoscope’s Pre-Service training and any necessary consents or procedures. The entire transfer process typically takes around 2 months from the submission of your application.

Information Disclosure about Foster Children

Kaleidoscope practices full disclosure with foster families when considering a child for placement. While certain confidential information regarding family members may not be shared, we provide all available information about the child to help foster families understand what to expect upon placement.

Differences Between DCFS and Private Foster Care Agencies

Kaleidoscope is a nonprofit private foster care agency contracted by DCFS to provide foster care and other related services. All youth in our foster care program are referred to us through DCFS.

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Foster Parenting While Working Full-Time

Yes, you can become a foster parent even if you work full time.

Balancing Training with Full-Time Work

Kaleidoscope conducts monthly foster parent meetings and trainings. If your work schedule prevents you from attending, we will work with you to find alternative methods for completing the required trainings. It is our responsibility to identify suitable training options for foster parents.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent with Kaleidoscope, register for an upcoming foster parent orientation on our website. If you have any further questions or need additional information, feel free to reach out to us or call (773) 292-4462.

Join us today in making a positive difference in the lives of foster children.

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