What does it take to be a foster parent in Scioto County, Ohio? According to Dana Adkins from Necco, there are two important requirements. What those are will probably surprise you. Necco helps arrange foster placements in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky Adkins said his organization has placed thousands of children in supportive and caring families.
In light of recent tragedies involving children in Scioto County, officials like County Commissioner Bryan Davis called on residents to become foster parents. However, many people think they can’t. They worry they won’t meet the requirements or that training is too time-consuming and difficult.
Most Important Requirements
I had a long conversation with Dana Adkins, the regional coordinator for Necco. He told me that, in his opinion, the two most important qualifications for foster parents are:
- a big, loving heart
- an open mind
“Someone who has love to share and love to give for a child who is in need at the most vulnerable time in their life.” Adkins said an open mind is equally important. “An open mind not to judge a child based on their history and their family history.”
Foster parents have the unique opportunity to give children ‘firsts.’ “We work with kids who have never had a birthday party, never seen a Christmas tree, or never had a new pair of shoes.”
Adkins said the greatest misconception about foster parenting is “That these kids are bad or have done something to come into foster care. They are not defective or broken. That’s not the case. They have experienced trauma. They prevent challenges. These kids are not bad.”
In fact, he said the children are one caring adult away from becoming success stories. According to the folks at Necco, a wide range of people qualify to be foster parents, “Married, single, same-sex parents, homemakers, professionals, and everyone in between, all that matters is your desire to give these children comfort, stability, and love.”
Adkins said his agency is willing to provide all the support people need to make a difference in a child’s life. “We can provide anything except the desire to take care of the child. If there’s a person out there who wants to help a child, we’ll do everything within our power.”
Scioto County Children Services Director Jason Mantell provided this list of his agency’s requirements for foster parents:
- At least 21 years of age.
- Married or single.
- Households must have enough income to meet the basic needs of the child and to make timely payment of shelter costs.
- Access to a working telephone.
- At least one person in your home must be able to read, write, and speak English or be able to communicate effectively with both the child and the agency.
- You must complete the 36-Hour Pre-Service Program.
- No physical, emotional or mental conditions that could endanger the child or seriously impair your ability to care for the child.
- Completion of the agency’s home study process,
However, Adkins told me that Ohio recently lowered the minimum age to 18. That change was designed to allow siblings to take guardianship of their younger brothers and sisters. Adkins also told me there is no maximum age for foster parents. As long as someone is in good health, they can be a foster parent. “We have many families who consist of empty-nesters and retired individuals who are still taking an active role in taking care of children.”
Additionally, there will be:
- State and Federal criminal background checks for all adults in the home.
- Medical exams for all residing in the home:
- A certified state fire inspection
We’ve heard many complaints from the community about barriers to becoming a foster family. Adkins said the number one thing standing in the way is fear. “The greatest barrier to people becoming foster parents is fear. I would express to anyone who has that fear, feel free to call us at 1-740-263-2626 without commitment. Have a conversation with us about the process. We are happy to discuss any fears you might have about the process. That fear holds some folks back.”
Many people have expressed concern at the time commitment required for the training. Adkins said Necco does their best to make it easy. “Thirty-six hours of training is required to become licensed foster parents. It’s broken up into 13 three-hour classroom sessions. At Necco, we are able to provide that training online utilizing technology. For anyone who is even remotely interested, now would be a great time to jump in and maybe take a couple of classes. Maybe at the conclusion of a couple of classes, you find out it’s not for you and that’s okay. Starting the classes doesn’t mean you’ll finish. We’d like that. Some decide it’s not for them and that’s okay.”
Jason Mantell said Scioto Count Ohio Children Services is also working on improvements to the process. “We do have a new foster specialist; she is not new to the agency but she is new to the position. We are also in the process of adding personnel as well as making a few personnel adjustments that we believe will make this agency stronger. As I have mentioned, we do understand that some people feel frustrated and potentially ignored; rest assured that we are making positive, necessary changes. “Should you be interested in becoming a foster parent, please call 1-740-456-4164.”
Mantell also pointed out that foster families receive subsidies to meet the child’s daily living needs. Plus, children in foster care are eligible for Medicaid.
Adkins said his agency will also help out with other issues. “There is some paperwork. We have individuals that will walk through the process with any individual. Foster parents are quite possibly the most selfless people on the planet. They deserve anything we can provide for them in the way of customer service.”