Frequently Asked Questions About OFY Foster Care

Please read our blog post about the status of our Foster Care program.


Why should I “go with OFY”?

Our experienced staff is one reason. Our foster care case managers are veterans in the field of human services. Just check out “Foster Care Case Managers” under our “Meet Our Staff” section and you’ll find tons of experienced staff. It means that the people who work with you and the child know what they’re doing.

What do I have to do to become a foster parent?

You need to go to training; get a home study done (a series of interviews completed by us); collect a variety of documents for us (proofs of marriage, divorce, and income; fire safety inspection; medical exams; written references); talk to us about what types of children you want to work with; be flexible, patient, and persistent (among other things).

How long will it take me to become a foster parent?

When you become a foster parent you receive a license or become certified. It can take anywhere from three to six months depending on how motivated you are to complete OFY’s requirements.

Is it true that I get paid to be a foster parent?

Yes, it is! But we call it reimbursement, and you will receive a monthly reimbursement check from OFY for taking care of a child or children. It’s calculated by how many days you take care of the child or children that month.

How old are the children and what are they like?

The children (males and females) can range in age from a few days old to up to 18 years (sometimes older). They are all shapes, sizes, and cultures. Each age group has its own particular set of issues to deal with. However, remember that children that need foster care have suffered some form of trauma and separation from their family. All children express that trauma differently in their behaviors. When you attend training, we talk more extensively with you about this.

So, what’s a home study like?

A home study is also called a family assessment. A certified Assessor sits down and interviews you and every member of your household over 4 years old. Adult interviews can take an hour or two, but the interviews get shorter as the age of the person gets younger. We ask you about your parents, brothers and sisters, how you were raised; your education; your job history; your future plans; your reasons for wanting to be a foster parent; your values and what you hold dear. We ask if you are patient…we ask if you are patient…we ask if you are patient…we ask …(get it)?

What is the training about?

The training is not intended to make you into a “super parent.” It is to expose you to the field of child welfare, give you information about what to expect from the children/teens, tell you about OFY and our policies, and to give you some beginning techniques in order to work with our young people.

I hear that they check your background. How is that done?

It’s true that we check into your background to see if you’ve had any criminal offenses that would be a danger to children/teens. We do this by:

  1. Submitting a form to the Ohio Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.
  2. Submitting your fingerprints to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information (BCII) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  3. Submitting a request to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children & Family Services to see if you have been accused of abuse/neglect.
  4. Checking with the Cuyahoga county Sheriff’s Department to see if you have any harmful offenses toward youth.

Can I be a foster parent for more than one agency at the same time?

No, you cannot. You have to make a choice to be licensed by one agency. You can, however, transfer your license to another agency after one year. But why would you do that? You’re with OFY!!

Is there a limit to how many foster children I can have in my home?

Yes, there is a limit. It really depends upon the special needs of the children you are fostering. The general rule says that you can care for no more than five foster children at one time. There are some exceptions relative to sibling groups.

Do I need to be able to drive?

No, not technically. It makes your role a lot easier if you do, however. You need to take children to medical appointments, attend school meetings, go to training, etc.

Can I work and be a foster parent?

Yes, you can. You will need to have what we call a reliable “Alternative Caregiver” who can watch your foster child(ren) whenever you aren’t present.

Don’t foster parents do this for “the money?”

You may hear this a lot from people who don’t know much about the child welfare system. People have all kinds of reasons for wanting to foster. If you want to foster only “for the money” and view it as a part-time job that allows you to stay at home, you will quickly discover that it isn’t worth it. Foster parenting is difficult and stressful. Remember the financial term is “reimbursement,” not pay.

What are some of the reasons people want to become foster parents?

Generally speaking, here are some of the reasons: People want to ‘give back’ to their community; some have an “empty nest” with plenty of room in their home; some love to parent children of a certain age; some are unable to have children; some want to help keep a child safe while that child’s parent is working on their problems; some have been foster children themselves and want to help…

So what does it really take to be a foster parent?

Mainly, it takes a commitment to persevere through some issues and problems that others find very troubling or difficult (physical or sexual abuse and neglect). Foster parents need to able to love and then let go (allow the child to return to family/relatives). They need to be firm, yet flexible (knowing when to let up on their rules). Foster parents, above all, need patience…patience to handle frustration…patience to wait until change comes.

How do I get started?

Call us and ask when our next Orientation class begins. If you want to start sooner than it is scheduled, we will work with you to accommodate that. Our goal is to give you a chance to foster if you really want to foster.

Contact Us

For more information about Options for Families and Youth fill out our Contact Us form.