The House has been changing children's lives since 1872.

Foster Care FAQ

Where do I start?

Making the decision to move forward with becoming licensed to provide foster care is often accompanied by lots of questions! We encourage you to contact us directly at 315.235.7286 (Utica) or 315.782.8064 ext. 4023 (Watertown).

Who can be a foster parent?

Foster parents can be of any marital status: single, married, divorced or partnered. Foster parents must be at least 21 years old.

Do I need my own home?

It isn’t necessary that foster parents own their home. As long as you own or rent your home, you can apply to be a foster parent.

Do I get paid to be a foster parent?

Foster Parents are not paid, but you do receive a monthly stipend for the child’s room, food, clothing, and other expenses.

Do I have to provide medical expenses?

Foster Parents do not pay for medical expenses except over-the-counter medicine and supplies. Foster children are covered by medical assistance through their county for all medical, dental, and mental health care needs.

Do foster children receive any benefits?

Foster children receive professional staff on call 24/7, individual, family, and group counseling, case management, psychiatric/psychological evaluation/consultation, independent living skill acquisition, and medical staff.

Can I foster even though I am disabled?

Not all disabilities disqualify you from fostering. While there is an emphasis on good health for foster caregivers, disabilities are not necessarily disqualifiers. If fostering will not put your health at risk, a disability will not prevent you from being a foster parent.

Can I foster even though I have a baby?

Do not eliminate the possibility of fostering because you have a baby. When you apply to become a foster parent, your current situation is discussed and assessed. A new baby in your household will bring many changes but these changes do not necessarily mean you cannot foster.

Can I have pets?

Many foster parents have pets. All domesticated animals must have proof of current rabies vaccination. Many foster children respond well to pets. Pets can be a source of comfort and affection for the whole family.

Can I foster and have a full-time job?

People work full-time when they have biological children and it’s no different with foster children. The Case Manager can advise you on childcare options.

What training/courses are offered?

New foster parents require preparation and training to meet the needs of children in their care. HGS uses the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting/Group Preparation (MAPP) pre-certification training program. Current foster parents will need to attend additional training sessions throughout the year that supplement and maintain foster parent certification.

How long will it take to become certified and have a child placed in my home?

The timeline can vary, but the average is 90 days. During this time, a foster child’s needs and a foster family’s strengths are carefully considered. The process may be expedited if you’re willing to care for a wider age range of children (especially from 10 –18 years of age), a sibling group of three or more children, or children with disabilities or special needs.

What if I don’t have any experience being a foster parent?

Experience is not required to be a foster parent. The House provides ongoing training and support. A supervising social worker will be available for you from the beginning of your assessment and throughout your journey as a Foster Parent.

What are the benefits of becoming a foster parent?

There is no greater reward than helping a child thrive and grow into a well-adjusted socially responsible, self-sufficient, stable adult. By doing so, you will have the joy of knowing that you have changed that child’s life forever.

Why are children in foster care?

Children enter the foster care system because they or their families are experiencing extreme turmoil. Serious cases may include one or more of the following: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, incarceration of the parent, or abandonment. These circumstances make it unsafe for the child to remain in their biological home.

Do I have a choice of which children I foster?

You do have control over which children are placed in your home. However, the broader your parameters are the more quickly you will receive a placement.

How long does a child usually stay in foster care?

The length of stay varies with each family and depends on the child’s family situation, the child’s needs, and your family’s goals and capacities. By design, foster care is meant to be a temporary living situation until the child is either able to be reunited with their biological family or adopted.

What if I get attached? Won’t it be hard to see them leave?

It’s true — you will get attached, and it will be challenging when children leave. But these children need the love and care foster parents provide when they open their hearts and homes.

Are teenagers more difficult to foster?

Each child brings with them their own unique strengths and abilities depending on their traumatic experiences. They can view foster care as a safe shelter and seek mentors in foster parents and caseworkers. With the right support, teens are able to succeed in school, participate in community activities, hold part-time jobs, and have plans for the future.

Why are some children reunited with their biological families?

The primary goal is to reunite children with their biological families. While the child is in foster care, HGS offers services and creates plans for the biological family to regain custody of their children.

Do foster children see their biological parents during the time they are in foster care?

Most children in foster care visit their biological parents on a regular basis, usually once a week, as part of the court-ordered plan to reunite the family.

Can foster parents adopt their foster children?

Under certain circumstances, the court may terminate a biological parental rights or parents may surrender their parental rights and the child will be free for adoption. The foster parents are usually the first choice for adoption of a child that has been in their care.