Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions


The road to becoming a foster family is paved with excitement, expectation and many questions. To make sure you are ready for the journey, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions and answers to help you make the right decision for your family.

What is foster care?

Foster care is the temporary placement of children outside of their own homes due to abuse, neglect or other family problems, and it gives biological parents time to learn new skills to become the parents their children need them to be. Children are placed with certified foster parents through the Weld County Department of Human Services, which stands as guardian to the child, making all legal decisions, while the foster parent is responsible for the day-to-day care of the child. Foster parents care for children until permanency is achieved, either through reunification or adoption. The ultimate goal and most common outcome in foster care is reunification with birth family, when possible.

What is the difference between foster, foster/adopt and kinship?

The main priority of all foster parents, whether they are considered foster, foster/adopt or kinship, is to provide a safe, supportive and stable family environment while the biological family addresses the concerns or situation that prevents them from parenting their child.

Foster/adopt families must foster before pursuing adoption. These families become certified in hopes that a child is placed that becomes adoptable, which happens when reunification is not possible with biological parents or relatives.

Kinship means a child is placed with relatives, friends, neighbors or other people with a significant relationship to the child. The kinship parent can choose whether to be certified or non-certified. If certification is pursued, the kinship foster family will receive all supports and resources that other foster families receive from Weld County.

Why do people want to foster?

Individuals usually decide they want to become foster parents for several reasons: because they want to give back to their community, because children need them and they can help, because they feel a calling to foster, because they want to provide a child who needs permanency with an adoptive family, and because they have room to fill an empty nest. Why do you want to foster?

Who can be a foster parent?

There are no restrictions on who can foster based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Whether you are single, married, widowed, divorced or have a domestic partner, living in a house or apartment, a homeowner or renter, currently with or without children, or working inside or outside the home, you can be a foster parent for Weld County. You must be at least 21 years of age, you must have sufficient income to support your family, you must have room in your home and schedule for a child, you must be able to physically care for a child, you must pass child abuse and criminal background checks required by state and federal laws, and you must be able to work with a treatment team and be willing to go to ongoing training.

What is a foster parent's role?

Picture Foster parents provide nurturing and supportive homes in which the children’s emotional, physical, and social needs can be met while issues and concerns in the biological family can be addressed, with the intent to safely reunify children with their families. Foster parents are expected to work closely with biological families (when possible), Weld County Department of Human Services, guardian ad litem and service providers.

What qualities make an ideal foster parent?

We have found that the most successful foster parents: are patient; are committed and caring; like to teach, mentor and learn; are flexible; are willing to ask for help and support when it’s needed; enjoy seeing children grow, thrive and achieve; communicate well; give without expectation of immediate return; provide a consistent and structured home; love a challenge; and want to meet the needs of the child, not just serve their own personal needs.

What does Weld County expect in a foster parent?

We have high standards for our foster families. For the sake of our children, we are looking for those individuals who can provide a safe, nurturing home environment, are financially stable, are able and willing to work with a variety of systems, are willing to learn to work with children who have experienced trauma, and will attend training and upkeep license requirements. In addition, our most successful foster families are flexible in their parenting practices to meet the wide range of needs children in foster care have.

What kind of behavior might I expect from my foster child, and how can I help them?

Children that have been legally removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect may exhibit difficult behaviors that reflect their internal sense of grief, loss and unmet needs. These can include anger/defiance or aggression/destructive behaviors, attachment issues or trouble trusting others, night terrors/sleeping disorders, eating disorders, hyper-vigilance/indiscriminate or overly friendliness/withdrawal, sexual acting out, lack of boundaries, and developmental delays (either physical, emotional, behavioral or academic). Children need nurturing, stability and structure to process their feelings, and they respond and improve with patience and perseverance. Fortunately, foster families in Weld County are provided with a network of resources and supports to help them work through difficult times.

Are there certain types of children that especially need a foster family?

Each child’s needs are different, and all of them deserve a stable and loving family, but there are certain populations that more urgently need placement. These include sibling groups, older school-age children and teenagers, and children with higher needs (complex mental health needs, medically fragile and offense-specific).

How long are children in foster care?

A child may be in foster care for one night, several months or, in some cases, years. Every effort is made to reunify children with their parents. The time spent in foster care is dependent upon each parent’s situation and their ability to engage in services to keep the children safe so that they can be reunited.

How is it determined where a child lives?

Placements are made with foster families based upon the compatibility of the child’s needs and the skills, resources and location of the foster parent. We strive to find a foster family near the child’s parents’ home to encourage frequent visitation and involvement. We also look for a foster family who lives near the child’s school or in the same school district.

How long will it be until a child can be placed in my home?

A child could be placed in your home as soon as you are certified.

Can I choose the age/gender/type of child that I foster?

During the home study, you will be asked about the children your home can best foster, in terms of your family culture. You will be able to discuss the age, gender and behaviors that you feel like you and your family can best serve.

What is the goal for foster children?

Reunification is our primary focus and goal, as well as keeping sibling groups together whenever possible. Children are placed into foster care temporarily until permanency can be established through reunification, but when this is not possible, then adoption is pursued.

Will I have contact with the birth family of my foster child?

As our goal is reunification, we encourage contact between foster parents and parents based upon your treatment team’s recommendation. Sometimes “icebreaker meetings” are scheduled at the beginning of placement to allow the foster parents and parents to meet and focus on the needs of the child. Topics may include foods they like or dislike, interests, routines and other important information that will reduce the trauma and help with the transition into the foster home. Contact with the birth family can reduce anxiety and reduce loyalty issues for children in foster care. There are many levels of contact, which may include: sending written information about the child, telephone calls, face-to-face contact, inviting and transporting parents to appointments, and coaching on parenting techniques that work for the child. Weld County values our foster families and is mindful of your need to have confidentiality. We don't disclose your last name, phone number or address.

How much income do I have to have?

There is no specific annual income to qualify. We just want to make sure that you can financially support yourself and your family prior to becoming a foster family.

Are foster parents paid to care for children placed in their homes?

Foster parents receive a monthly reimbursement to offset the costs of providing food, shelter, clothing and other related expenses. The rate varies and may depend upon the age of the child and the level of care they need. The foster parent is not expected to pay for medical or dental care; these expenses are generally covered by Medicaid.

What are you looking for when you run my background check/what would disqualify me?

We are mainly looking for crimes against children, such as child abuse conviction and past child welfare incidents, as well as violent crimes and unlawful sexual behavior. These would most likely disqualify you, but we will work with you on a case-by-case basis if you have different past offenses.

Why does the process typically take 4-5 months to become a certified foster parent?

The process is designed to fully vet each individual applicant for foster care to ensure our children will be placed in the safest, most stable environment possible. Much of the timing for some of the processes are beyond our control, such as state and federal requirements, as well as some internal steps like the home study, but we do try to expedite the process as quickly as possible.