Therapeutic Foster Care
Become an LSSND Foster Family
To become a foster parent, you don’t need a fancy house, a spouse or partner or extensive parenting experience. You do need dedication, flexibility and patience. Most of all, you need a strong desire to provide a stable, loving and supportive home for a child in foster care.
Lutheran Social Services has been providing specialized foster care services to unaccompanied refugee children since 1981.
We are grateful for our foster families and walk with them on their caregiving journey, offering support, training, and guidance every step of the way.
LSS is actively recruiting foster parents in:
Cass County, ND
*We will start recruiting in other parts of North Dakota mid-2019
All types of people can be successful foster parents – married couples, domestic partners, same-sex couples and single people – as long as they can provide a child stability, love and support. Children in foster care need loving and dedicated adults to welcome them into their homes and nurture them as they grow into healthy, happy and self-sufficient adults.
Becoming a foster parent with LSSND involves several steps requiring varying amounts of time, paperwork, face-to-face meetings and training. Each step builds on the previous steps.
The process helps you decide whether foster parenting is indeed something you want to commit to. It also gives us a chance to get to know you better so that an appropriate match is made between foster family and youth.
Once you contact us to explore the possibility of becoming a foster parent, you can expect to follow these steps over the course of about four to six months:
Step 1: Initiate contact
When you first contact our office, a staff member will answer your questions about being a foster parent. If you’re interested in taking the next step, we will ask you some basic questions about you and your family, and will mail you a packet of information and forms for you to fill out and return to us.
Step 2: Orientation
You will be invited to an orientation, where you may meet with other interested families and learn more about what it will mean for you to be a foster parent. In some cases, a staff person will come to your home and meet with you individually to answer your questions and provide information.
Step 3: Pre-service training
Foster care programs in North Dakota follow the PRIDE model for training foster parents. PRIDE is an acronym for Parents Resource for Information Development and Education. Every prospective foster parent is required to attend about 30 hours of pre-service training sessions. The training is considered an introduction to fostering and discuss what foster parenting is all about-what it takes, what to expect, the obligations, challenges, and rewards.
Step 4: Home study
During this step, one of our social workers specializing in foster family development will visit your home to talk with you and any other family members and residents in your home. Typically, conversations are conducted during the course of at least two to four visits to your home. The visits are an opportunity for us to:
• Gather important information about you and your family.
• Understand your motivations to become a foster parent.
• Ensure that foster parenting is a fit for you.
• Ensure that you will be able to provide a safe and nurturing home environment.
• Make sure your home has enough space to accommodate additional youth.
• Complete criminal background checks on adults living in your home.
• Contact references provided by you.
Then, based on what we learn together, we will be able to jointly decide whether foster parenting with LSS is a good fit for you and your family at this time.
Step 5: Licensing
Regional licensing staff review your application and determines whether to license you as a foster parent.
Step 6: Child placement
Once you have the appropriate license, LSSND can match you with a young person. You are now ready to provide a youth in foster care with a safe and loving home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kind of foster parents is LSSND looking for?
A: We look for all types of families who can provide a supportive and stable home environment for children, teens, siblings, and LGBTQ youth. A disproportionate number of children of color enter the child welfare system. LSSND is committed to diverse communities, and we provide culturally appropriate services to individuals and families.We also look for families who, when appropriate, can step up to offer a permanent home for a youth through adoption or by becoming their legal guardian.
Q: How much contact do children have with their birth families?
A: LSSND seeks to maintain and, in some cases, to build a positive relationship with birth families. This often brings children and youth a sense of culture, history and self. Our top priority is to ensure that this contact is safe, and we offer support and supervision when necessary.
Q: What do I do to become a foster parent?
A: LSSND guides families through a process that meets state requirements to become a foster parent. The process includes licensing. In general, this involves background checks for all the adults in a household, filling out an application and other paperwork, attending training, a home check, and completing an assessment process. We also meet with you so you can learn more about fostering and so we can learn more about you and your family. This helps us determine the best fit for both child and family.
Q: What kinds of supports and services do I get as a LSSND Therapeutic Foster parent?
A: LSSND offers a wide variety of services and supports to families and youth tailored to meet specific needs including: social work support, 24-hour staff availability, financial reimbursement, attachment-focused, trauma competent, evidence-based training in child development and other related topics, respite topics, and respite (another family takes the child temporarily to give you a break).
What is therapeutic foster care?
Therapeutic foster care serves kids in the child welfare system with challenges somewhat greater than average, including medically fragile children and children who have emotional and behavioral needs that require a therapeutic environment. Case management and a variety of support services are utilized to assist in developing an appropriate therapeutic environment. This level of care usually requires close supervision and more assistance than other levels of foster care.
Therapeutic Foster Care is an alternative to more restrictive treatment facilities. It combines community-based treatment with a nurturing family environment. In short, kids are referred to Therapeutic Foster Care programs to help them address their serious emotional and behavioral needs.
We believe strongly in the prevention of out-of-home placement and have a range of family support options that offer great success (including Healthy Families, Intensive In-Home Counseling). But we also know that quality interventions are necessary for many children on their path to a healthy adulthood. Our foster care program offers quality care rooted the best child welfare research and in our organization’s values of healing, help and hope. We want to ensure that children have a safe and supportive care environment and that every foster parent feels confident and well-prepared to meet the special needs of children. Our attachment-focused and trauma-competent approach is based on the knowledge that multiple placements, loss of siblings, and cultural mis-match are very real secondary sources of trauma for children facing out-of-home placement.
Why are we doing this?
Is this something LSS knows how to do? The answer is “yes”! You may not know that LSS has been a Licensed Child Placing Agency for many years, approved by the State to offer specialized foster care services to refugee minors (the program we have always called URM - Unaccompanied Refugee Minors). We typically have around 70 children in our care under this license at any given time. This programmatic expansion allows us to put this same skill set to work in service of a different group of children and families – in this case, North Dakota kids who have very specialized needs.