In Tennessee, approximately 8,000 children are in foster care at any given time, and with fewer than 4,000 foster families with open homes, the need for more foster families is considerable.
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month so we are sharing some frequently asked questions we hear from potential new foster care parents.
Who can be a foster parent?
Foster families can be single parents, couples with or without children, older couples; just about any household with room to care for and support children in foster care.
What kind of training is involved before taking in a foster child?
Foster parents undergo extensive training before being approved to take in a foster child, including trauma and collaborative problem solving. Youth Villages also sets up check-ins and counseling on a mutually-agreed schedule with the parents and the children, apart and together. We are available at any time to help with situations that may arise. We are following CDC COVID-19 recommendations for virtual and distanced learning.
Are there different lengths of stay for foster children?
Yes! Some children are foster to adopt, some are foster to reunite with their family and some will be respite visits for weekends or week-long stays. In many instances, fostering is not about adoption, but providing support for a child and a family until they can be reunited. Foster parents provide support and a loving home to children during a time in their lives when they need it most to help the, reunite with their families, safely.
What age are your foster children?
The children associated with Youth Villages are all ages! Teens are most in need of foster placements, before they age out of the foster care system at age 18. Our teenagers need a supporting home as much as younger children.
What about sibling groups in need of foster care?
We do often have siblings in need of foster care and we do our best to keep them together. Oftentimes siblings are the only family the kids have, depending on their situation. As long as it safe to do so, we try to place them in the same home. Sibling groups have shared experiences and can provide support to each other.
How can I support foster families in my community?
Like you would help a family with a new baby or illness, you can provide meals, run errands or cut their grass. Your support, along with encouragement from family, neighbors, congregations, etc. can help make the foster successful and avoid burnout.
How can I find out more information about foster care?
Sign up for an informational session or for the certification classes or speak with a foster care agency or Department of Children’s Services. Agencies include:
Youth Villages 1-888-MY-YV-KID
The Omni Family of Services 615-726-3603
DSC (Did you mean DCS?)
Monroe Harding 615-298-5573
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during the time by calling 866-791-9222 to reach Youth Villages Specialized Crisis. Visit Youth Villages or call 1-888-MY-YV-KID for information about foster care.