Who are the children needing foster care?
- Children from all ethnic and economic groups.
- Children with backgrounds or experiences that have placed them at risk.
- Brothers and sisters who need to stay together.
- Teens with various degrees of mental, physical or emotional problems.
- Children of all ages who cannot currently live with their birth families due to the risk of neglect, physical or sexual abuse.
How can we be involved?
Agape provides foster care for children from birth through 18 years of age. Foster families make a difference in helping children to feel cared for, important and capable, even if it is only for a short time. The greatest gift you can give these children is yourself.
How do we get started?
The first thing to do is to download a Foster Info Inquiries and email it back to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us at 334-272-9466 to speak with a social worker.
What about that “home study” that I’ve heard about?
Agape offers training and preparations to all foster families before they get started. This gives us a chance to get to know your family while you have an opportunity to learn more about both the agency and the challenges of fostering. During this time together, we will guide you regarding the various documents and information you need to provide us in order to comply with state standards. The actual process is not nearly so much Agape “studying your home” as it is our sharing information with one another and coming to a joint understanding as to how you could best be involved in caring for children.
What supports are available?
Agape closely supports its foster families to help with the adjustment process, visitation with birth family, educational issues, and specific counseling or psychological services that the foster child may need. There are quarterly foster parent training meetings hosted by Agape. The extended church family can also be important to providing the support a family needs. The model envisioned is one of a team working toward a common goal, with Agape helping to access and coordinate all the services the child or family may need to be successful.
Is there financial assistance?
Agape’s foster parents receive a monthly boarding payment from the state to help take care of the child based on the child’s basic needs. A clothing allotment is provided as well as payment for childcare expenses if you work outside the home. Medicaid, the state, and Agape are responsible for all medical bills and prescriptions of the child. While you should not encounter financial hardships from caring for a child, the boarding payment does not substitute for family income. Financial stability is an important factor in a family’s ability to provide foster care for children.
Will the children be with us for a long time?
Foster care is designed to be temporary, with the goal being to return the child to a stable home. We do our best to provide you with a projected length of stay, but that is never easy to predict. Children may be in care from a few weeks to several months or longer; each situation is unique. Agape staff and foster parents are key members of the team which continually revises and updates the treatment plan for each child, so you actually have input regarding when it’s time for the child to return home.
Are foster parents ever allowed to adopt the children placed with them?
State and federal laws mandate permanency for a child in roughly a one-year time frame. If all efforts to reunify the child with his family have failed and the court decides the child should be adopted, state law actually gives fosters parents the first right to be considered. However, it is never the expectation of the agency that in becoming a foster parent one is automatically or necessarily making a commitment to adopt, because that probably would not be the right course for every family or in every circumstance.
Does Agape ever need families just to care for babies temporarily?
Yes! It certainly takes a special family to buy into the diapers and spitting up and no sleep routine for several weeks. It is very important to the adoption program to have stable Christian families that can love and nurture the babies until they can go to their adoptive homes.
What about teens?
Experienced parents are needed who are willing to invest in the future of our teens. It is a special gift to give young people support and a good value base as they become adults. It is particularly rewarding to help a child find the security and stability needed in order to learn to make good life decisions.
What is “therapeutic foster care” (TFC), and does Agape do that?
We realize that some children’s needs are so intense that they require a family who receives additional training, and can make a greater commitment in terms of time. TFC was created to meet the needs of those children by providing their foster families with additional training. Agape is a part of a Jefferson County TFC program called the S.T.A.R. Project. While the challenges are frequently even greater than usual, S.T.A.R. has been highly successful over the last 19 years in helping children who had bleak futures find success and happiness. This program has been so positive and inspirational that some Agape foster parents who began in 1995 and 1996 are still active in the Project!
What is “enhanced foster care” (EFC), and does Agape do that?
In 2012, Agape responded to a request from the Alabama Department of Human Resources to provide case management and support to foster parents serving children in larger sibling groups of four or more. It has been a tremendous success, keeping many of Alabama’s most vulnerable placements stable and united as a family. EFC families receive extra support from their Agape Social Worker and additional financial support that makes it possible to care for a larger group. There is a desperate need for families who can take on the challenge of sibling groups. For more information on EFC, please call us at 334-272-9466 or email email@example.com.