It’s an intimidating moment. You finish orientation, are handed a packet of agencies, and are told your next step is to pick one. Now what? Your agency plays a vital role in your foster care journey. Their role is to support you, help you get needed resources, run interference when issues arise, and encourage you. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to what agency is best. One of the great advantages of having several agencies to choose from is that, as a potential foster or adoptive family, you have the ability to choose what agency you mesh with. We cannot express enough how important it is that you mesh with your agency. Changing agencies mid-course is doable but not always quick or easy. Before starting to call that massive list, think about what matters to you. What do you want from your agency? Here was our thought process when choosing our agency:
Location – are they close enough to me that I will not feel inconvenienced by trainings or needing to drive to the location?
This brought the list down quite a bit. Then, I started the interview process with these questions:
- What is your policy for working parents fostering young children? (We knew we would be fostering younger children. Some agencies require a stay-at-home parent or are limited on the time a child in foster care can be in out-of-home care).
- What sets you apart from other agencies?
- Do you have an after-hours line?
- Do you offer any support/resources to your foster/adoptive families?
- When do you have PS-MAPP classes starting? How many weeks are they?(Some agencies have additional training above the state mandated training)
- What rules do you have in addition to the rules set by OLCR?
- Does the agency have any religious affiliation?
- Due to inspections delaying the licensing process, when in the process does your agency submit for a home inspection for new families?
Here are some bonus questions given by other foster parents that you might want to consider:
- Do you have any breed restrictions or other pet restrictions?
- Do you have events for foster/adoptive families or kids in care?
- Are you a not-for-profit agency?
- What size is the agency?