When entering the world of foster care, it is easy to quickly get lost and confused by the vocabulary and vernacular. Simply trying to figure out all the different types of placements – Out-of-home placement? Kinship care? Relative placement? Fost-adopt? Foster parent? Resource family? – can be completely overwhelming.
We know that child welfare, including but not limited to foster care and adoption, is already a daunting system. So we want to make sure if you are considering fostering or adoption, that you have access to tools and information that make navigating this complicated world as easy as possible.
Though we won’t be able to cover all the different vocabulary in a single blog post, here’s a link to a glossary of terms, and let’s just start by tackling the most common terminology. Keep an eye out for future posts that will include more information!
Here in California, you may start to hear the term “Resource Family” creep up more and more often. Last year, new legislation was passed that designated “resource family” as the new, all-encompassing term for “foster parent” or “foster family”. A resource family can be a relative, a family friend or mentor, or completely unrelated. The term applies to all caregivers for children who are in out-of-home placements (foster placement, fost-adopt, respite care, guardianship, or relative/kinship care). With this new term comes a new, uniform set of requirements. Anyone who wants to foster, adopt, or simply provide respite care, whether they are a relative of the child or not, will need to complete the same approval process.
In plain terms, a “resource family” is the same thing as a “foster family”, but as of January 2017 in California it doesn’t matter if you want to foster, or adopt, or provide a home for the children of your cousin who has had them taken away – you will complete the same steps to be approved to have a child in your care. The goal is to provide more stability for children in the system.
Still confused or unsure? That’s okay! You don’t have to understand it all; that is why we are here! We will walk you through everything you need to know, step by step. If you have questions about the approval process for becoming a resource parent/foster parent, or are interested in other ways you can support children in foster care, please contact Nina Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org (Central Valley and Sacramento Regions) or Emily Youngblood at email@example.com (Bay Area).
Being a foster or adoptive parent is a high calling. You are taking in someone else’s child, caring for them, loving them, providing for them. Do not underestimate the incredible impact you will have. When you start feeling uncertain or overwhelmed, remember the children who are waiting for, and very much in need of, love.