In Shawnee County, foster parent training option goes from 10 weeks to two weekends
Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel is pleased to announce an effort to make a major change to the training commitment required to become a licensed foster parent in Kansas.
Currently, individuals interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents are required to attend 10 weeks of classes, three hours each. Through a partnership with The Call to Care and the Kansas Children’s Service League, a pilot is now underway in Shawnee County, to provide an optional two full weekends of classes instead.
The Call to Care Initiative was developed after Secretary Meier-Hummel stepped into the leadership role at DCF, and began seeking innovative solutions to safely reduce the number of children sleeping overnight in offices, and being forced to move hundreds of miles from their homes to be placed in available foster homes.
“With more than 7,300 children in foster care, the demand for family foster homes is great, and it’s time to make some changes, so we can accommodate the loving people who want to open their homes to children in need, but simply don’t have the time to spend 10 weeks in a classroom,” Secretary Meier-Hummel said. “Additionally, we need homes now, not 10 weeks down the road.”
Although the length of time it takes to become trained is reduced, through the pilot, the total time commitment remains the same. The training is a 30-hour course that covers a wide range of topics that are essential to prepare families to foster.
To kick off this pilot, an information meeting was held Monday, March 26, at the First Church of the Nazarene, Topeka. There, families learned about the Call to Care Initiative and the support services that will be offered to them as they make their journey to become foster parents. At that meeting, an estimated 40 families initiated the process or expressed interest in providing help to foster families, with supports such as clothes and supplies for children coming into care, for example.
The piloted two-weekend training will get underway in mid-April.
Secretary Meier-Hummel is working with Child Placing Agencies to expand the piloted two-weekend training to other parts of the state.
“It is our intent to allow all Child Placing Agencies the ability to offer training in this fashion,” Secretary Meier-Hummel said. “This is a solution to address an urgent issue. We need to eliminate the barriers standing in the way for families to begin fostering.”
The new training option will not eliminate other crucial steps in the foster care licensing process, such as backgrounds checks and home inspections.
For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit www.FosterKSKids.org