Recruitment and certification (R&C) staff, regional management, and central office staff work to ensure that there are a sufficient number and appropriate type of foster and adoptive homes available to meet the unique needs of Kentucky’s children receiving out-of-home care (OOHC) services. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet/CHFS) provides for the diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children for whom foster and adoptive homes are needed. Homes recruited and certified must be willing to accept children with a variety of complex needs in OOHC.
Successful fostering and adopting requires knowledge and skills beyond that of parenting one’s own biological children. The foster and adoptive home parent’s role includes intentional, active involvement in advocating for, planning, and providing services to meet the individual needs of children in OOHC, and includes involvement with the child’s birth parents. Foster and adoptive home parents are considered full, participating members of the family’s team and work in partnership with the birth family, as well as agency staff and community partners.
The Cabinet may not deny any person the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent on basis of race, color, or national origin of the person or of the child involved (title IV-E of section 471(a)(18)(A) of the Social Security Act).
If a foster and adoptive home applicant is not twenty-one (21) years of age, the applicant may be approved through an exception by the SRA or designee if the applicant is:
- At least age eighteen (18);
- Related to a child in the custody of the Cabinet;
- Able to meet the needs of the child; and
- Able to provide a placement in the best interest of the relative child.
Placement considerations for the following vulnerable populations coming into care will be of the utmost importance with regard to assessing risk for health conditions:
Children designated, or potentially designated, as medically complex must be placed in foster and adoptive homes where all household members have received vaccinations.
- Children under the age of two (2);
- Children coming into care without current immunizations; and
- Children with existing complex health conditions.
Placement decisions outside of the provisions in the two (2) bulleted points above must be approved by the SRA or designee with the risk assessed to the child in placement, considering the specific health care needs of the child, and documented in the child's case record.
Foster and adoptive parent applicants will be disqualified if a member of the prospective foster or adoptive parent's home presents a health and safety risk to a child in foster care as assessed by a health care professional and documented on the DPP-107 Health Information for Required Foster or Adoptive Parents, Applicants or Adult Household Members or the DPP-108 Health Information Required for Foster or Adoptive Parents or Applicants Regarding Dependent Children.
If there is an epidemic in a given area, the Cabinet may by emergency regulation require the immunization of all persons within the area of epidemic against the disease responsible for the epidemic.
Interested foster and adoptive home applicant(s) must attend at least one (1) information meeting.
A married, single, or unmarried person may apply to become a foster and adoptive home parent(s).
The R&C Worker:
- Verifies that the foster and adoptive home applicant is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
- Verifies proof of the applicant's United States citizenship or legal immigrant status;
- Refers to the Legal Status Documentation for proof of citizenship or legal immigrant status; 1
- Obtains verification from the applicant of any previous divorce(s), death of a spouse, and present marriage; 2
- Verifies that a foster and adoptive home parent who drives should:
- Possess a valid driver’s license;
- Possess a proof of liability insurance; and
- Abide by passenger restraint laws.
- Ensures that all the applicants' attendance at the information meeting is documented in TWIST;
- Provides a foster/adoptive applicant packet to all applicants who wish to pursue fostering or adopting a child. The packet includes:
- The application;
- Informed consent and release of information and records;
- DPP-157 Background checks for Applicants of Foster/Adoptive Parents;
- DPP-170 Financial Statement-Foster or Adoptive Parent Applicant;
- DPP-107 Health Information Required for Foster or Adoptive Home Parent Applicants or Adult Household Members;
- DPP-108 Health Information Required for Foster or Adoptive Home Parent Applicants Regarding Dependent Children;
- Foster/Adoptive Checklist; and
- DPP-117 Verification of Marriage and Divorce or copies of the marriage certificate or divorce decree;
- Provides the SAFE Questionnaire I after the applicant completes meeting one (1);
- Conducts background checks as specified in SOP 12.4 Background Checks for Foster and Adoptive Parents;
- Obtains agreement on the decision to foster or adopt a child from each adult member of the applicant’s household;
- Ensures that all adult household members complete the DPP-107 Health Information Required on Foster and Adoptive Home Applicants or Adult Household Member, within the last year: 3
- The DPP 107 shall document:
- The general health of the parent;
- That the applicant is free of communicable diseases; and
- The Medical ability to care for child placed in the applicant's home;
- All household members must disclose current mental health and/or substance misuse issues, including any history of drug or alcohol misuse or treatment;
- Require further documentation and/or evaluation to determine the suitability of the home if there are any indicators of current or past mental health issues or substance misuse; 4 and
- Each adult member of the applicant’s household, stating that the individual is free of:
- Communicable or infectious disease or
- A condition that presents a health or safety risk to a child placed in the applicant’s home;
- Ensures that a DPP-108 Health Information Required for Foster and Adoptive Home Applicants Regarding Dependent Children, is completed within the past year for any child living in the household and current within one year, attesting to:
- The general health of the child;
- That the child is free of communicable diseases; and
- That the child is current on immunizations, unless a medical exception is warrnted and approved immunizations, by the director of DPP or designee;
- Ensures all children in the household are current on immunizations unless:
- A medical exemption (whether temporary or permanent) or provisional status has been documented and approved by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, physician's assistant, pharmacist, local health department administrator, registered nurse, or licensed practical nurse designee, and there is a copy of the EPID-230 Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status in the case file for each child's exemption;
- The child's parents are opposed to immunizations based on religious grounds, and there is a copy of the EPID-230A Commonwealth of Kentucky Parent or Guardian's Declination on Religious Grounds to Required Immunizations in the case file for each child's exemption; 5 or
- The immunizations have been administered, but the continued vaccination schedule was objected to based on religious grounds and there is a copy of the EPID-230A in the case file for each child's exemption. 6
- Reviews the completed DPP–107 and DPP-108 to ensure that each adult and child member of the applicant household is free of any illness or condition that would present a health or safety risk to a child placed in the home;
- Ensures applicants demonstrate functional literacy, such as being able to read medication labels;
- Reviews the completed DSS-170 Financial Statement, and verifies that the foster and adoptive home applicant has a source of income sufficient to meet the applicant's household expenses and to ensure stability of the family unit that is separate from the foster care reimbursement and/or adoption assistance. Families should not be denied solely based on whether they are receiving public benefits, or housing assistance. The receipt of benefits contributing to a period of stability should be taken into consideration. These situations should be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on a variety of factors, including but not limited to their current financial stability and the length of time since the bankruptcy;
- Updates the case document TWIST screen as completed documents are received from the family;
- Notifies employed applicants that they will be required to have a plan for child care by the time of placement;
- Obtains from the applicant(s):
- The names of three (3) personal references including:
- One (1) relative; and
- Two (2) non-relatives.
- Two credit references; or
- A current credit report; 7
- Completes the SAFE reference letter with the personal references via mail, in person, or by telephone;
- Interviews the adult children of the foster and adoptive home applicant who do not live in the home in person or by telephone or the adult children may provide signed and dated letters of reference regarding the applicant’s parenting history; 8 9
- Obtains the following documents from an applicant who does not have custody of his/her children:
- A copy of the visitation order;
- A copy of the child support order; and
- Proof of current payment of child support;
- Assesses the family by completing a minimum of three (3) meetings in the home with the applicant(s) as follows:
- Home visit one (1) - Introductory get acquainted interview, discussion regarding SAFE Questionnaire I (QI), and home environment requirements;
- Home visit two (2) - The R&C worker administers the SAFE Questionnaire II (QII). QII is never out of the sight of the R&C worker. 10
- Observes both applicants or a single parent applicant while completing QII. The applicant(s) are instructed they may not talk or discuss the questionnaire.
- When QII is completed, the R&C worker immediately interviews each applicant one-on-one, separately, and privately. No children or other adults should be in the home when QII is administered. QII interviews should be no longer than forty-five (45) minutes each.
- Home visit three (3) - Marriage or support interview. The family and others frequently residing in the home can be interviewed at this time.
- Following each interview, completes a psychosocial inventory utilizing the SAFE Desk Guide and SAFE methods of documentation;
- Upon completion of the psychosocial inventory or within five (5) working days, consults with the FSOS regarding assigned desk guide and mitigation ratings;
- Assesses during the applicants pre-service training and in-home interview:
- The applicant's home environment and prerequisites as outlined in SOP 12.13 Home Environment Prerequisites;
- Participation of the other household members in the decision to foster or adopt;
- Expectations regarding changes or added responsibility; and
- The effect on applicants birth children.
- Upon completion of the home study requirements and pre-services, a decision regarding approval and denial shall be made as outlined in SOP 12.7 Approval and Denial. 11