More foster parents needed in Ward County | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo submitted Pictured are top row from left to right, Ryan Smith, Linder Smith and Danielle Smith, and front row from left to right, Nathan, Jayden and Blake Smith. The Smiths are longtime adoptive parents in Ward County and adopted their son Linder after having their three biological children.

The Ward County Social Services Agency needs adoptive parents to care for children who cannot live at home right now, said Amber Nix, licensing specialist with Children’s and Children’s Services. the Ward County family.

“For every ten households we recruit, we have nine transitions out of service delivery,” Nix said in an email. Either they move, need a break, adopt a child (or) their parent leaves the foster family.

Nix said there is a real need right now for adoptive parents who can care for babies and preschoolers, but finding adoptive parents for teenagers can also be difficult.

Ward County currently has 65 licensed foster homes. As of July 1, there were 167 foster children in Ward County, some living with parents and some with adoptive parents. Statewide, there were 1,541 foster children. Of these, 604 are babies, toddlers or preschoolers and 422 are teenagers.

Among Ward County’s adoptive parents is Danielle Smith.

“We have been licensed for six years and have had over 30 placements in our home during that time,” said Smith. “After having three biological children, we always wanted to add to our family, so fostering became a great idea to add to our family and help others at the same time. At first the children only stayed for four to five days, but then we started getting longer term placements. I would say the average is probably six months to a year. We ended up adopting one of our investments. We try to stay connected with the children and families and continue to support them as they transition. »

Some foster families end up adopting adoptive children, but the initial goal is always reunification with the child’s parents or other relatives. North Dakota has no “foster family to adopt” program as do many other states. Children may end up staying in foster care for days, weeks, or months at a time, depending on the circumstances. Nix said the goal is usually to reunite the child with their parents or another relative within a year.

“Approved foster parents are expected to support reunification with the children’s biological parents or related ties, however, it is not necessary for an adoptive parent to meet the biological parents in person, but it does happen and can be VERY useful!” Nix said. “The visit between the children and their parents takes place at the office of the guardianship agency supervised by the personnel of the guardianship agency, at the home of the parents or in a neutral place managed by the agency. Host parents may be asked to provide transportation to and from visits. However, transportation support is available through the child care agency if the licensed foster parents have scheduling conflicts.

Social service agencies often try to keep a child in their home school, so foster parents may be asked to drive the child to and from a school outside of the district where the foster family lives. welcome.

“This is something the childcare agency will discuss on a case-by-case basis depending on the distance between the approved foster parents’ home and the school,” Nix said.

Smith said she found social services very helpful in this regard.

“Case managers are good at offering support when they can,” she says. “Especially when it comes to transporting children between daycare/home and visits and appointments.”

North Dakota foster parents must be 21 or older. All adults living in a host family, including host parents and anyone else in the residence, must pass a background check. Foster parents must also be financially stable and have reasonable income and resources to support their own household and any children in their care. They cannot have more than six foster children at a time, unless an exception is approved by the North Dakota Department of Social Services.

Nix said foster parents must also be able to read and understand the law, foster care policies, child case plans, medication labels, and be able to fill out documents required by the agency, according to Carissa Cox, state. Foster Family Recruitment and Retention Specialist at the University of North Dakota Child and Family Services Training Center in Grand Forks.

Their accommodation, whether it is an apartment or a house, must meet state safety standards. Foster parents can work outside the home and receive reimbursement for childcare expenses.

“As part of the foster care authorization process, prospective foster parents must complete the required pre-requisite training, which will introduce them to foster care,” Nix said. “In addition to pre-employment training, each foster parent will be required to meet continuing education requirements on an annual basis. Ongoing training is seen as supporting foster parents to help them build their individual skills and knowledge of the children in their care.

“A wide variety of training is offered to authorized foster families. As a Licensing Specialist, I help organize specialized training when needed. Training topics may include trauma-informed parenting courses, behavior management courses, and other topics. I conduct annual home visits and quarterly check-ins throughout the year with licensed foster parents to ensure they receive the support and training opportunities needed to provide the best care for children in host family. Before a child is placed in the home of a licensed foster parent, the custodial agency will discuss the child’s individual needs so that the licensed foster parents can make an informed decision regarding their ability to care for the child. each child. Additional support and training opportunities are offered on an ongoing basis through the DHS Child and Family Services Licensing Unit.

Smith said she found the training helpful.

“The training opportunities that have been offered to us have been great!” said Smith. “We’ve been to a lot of different trainings, and then we usually separate the elements of the different trainings to find what works. Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

Foster parents also have the option of refusing a placement if it does not work out for one reason or another.

“Each child comes with a different background, different traumas and different needs,” said Smith. “We are opening our homes and our hearts and doing our best to help them as best we can. The experiences these children have had have opened our eyes and those of our children to the realities of what can really happen there. Unfortunately, there are times when we have to refuse a placement. This can happen for various reasons. It is never easier to say no to a placement, knowing that the child needs a home. However, sometimes it’s just a matter of not having the space, or it can be a no knowing that it won’t work with a child currently placed in our home. We appreciate all the support we receive from social workers, community businesses and local churches. It all means so much and can be so helpful.

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