Foster Parent FAQ's
Below are some of the Frequently Asked Questions many potential foster families have about our program when they are trying to decide whether or not to apply to be foster parents with Integrity, Inc. Please review the questions at your leisure. If you have additional questions about the program or to pick up application materials, please contact one of the following people:
What is Integrity, Inc.?
Integrity, Inc. is a private non-profit agency which specializes in providing supportive services to individuals who experience developmental disabilities. We hold two licenses through the Arkansas Department of Human Services: The Division of Disabilities Services licenses Integrity as a Community Based Provider and The Division of Children and Family Services licenses Integrity as a Foster Care Placement Agency. Integrity was one of the first community based programs in the state for individuals with developmental disabilities. Our philosophy has always been that all people have the right to live in the community regardless of any disabling condition. We do not have any type of group homes or facility based placements. Our consumers live with their own families, in their own homes, or, as is the case with foster care, with our staff in their homes. Our focus is on supplying individuals the appropriate support and coordination of services that are needed in order for them to be happy, productive, and involved members of their community.
In addition, Integrity, Inc. provides in home Personal Care services to individuals who need assistance with activities of daily living, Council on Accreditation Hague Standards accredited Adoption Services, and in home services for the elderly. We also have 2 DDTCS programs. One is for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years where they receive 5 hours of specialized programming a day which includes speech, occupational and physical therapy for those who qualify. The adult DDTCS program is geared towards developing appropriate independent living skills, job training and vocational development, and other adult development skills such as appropriate social skills, problem solving, and self direction.
What kind of children and adults does Integrity serve in Foster Care?
Integrity serves a wide variety of both children and adults in our foster care program. Each consumer is an individual and has his or her own set of strengths and needs. Some of our consumers have special medical needs that require special training for caregivers (which Integrity will provide). Other consumers present challenging behaviors. Still yet, some of our consumers are dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and a psychiatric condition. Whether they require hands on medical care or close supervision due to challenging behaviors, the one thing in common that all of our consumers need from their foster families is a strong commitment to care.
Why do people decide to become foster parents?
Most of our families who have been providing foster care for some time speak about the feelings they get when they know they are making a difference in the life of a child or adult. It is an opportunity to give back to the community and make the world a better place. Some foster parents talk about the satisfaction they get by taking a child to the zoo, a movie, or a restaurant for the first time because we get children and adults in our program who have never had the opportunity to fully experience community living. Other foster families talk about what a powerful personal impact it makes on them just by showing a child or adult what a peaceful, loving and calm home environment is like. Some of our children and adults are accustomed to chaos, violence or neglect in their home life and have never had the opportunity to experience a stable, safe and loving home environment.
Does it matter where I live in the State of Arkansas?
Yes. While Integrity, Inc. accepts referrals for services from all over the state, one of our licensing requirements is that we select the specific counties in which we operate and provide services. Therefore, at the present time, Integrity Foster Families must live in one of these 4 Central Arkansas area counties: PULASKI, FAULKNER, LONOKE or SALINE.
What are the physical requirements of a foster home?
The actual physical requirements of the foster home are set forth in licensing standards. As Integrity is licensed by both DDS and DCFS our homes must comply with the most stringent of the standards in any given area. A list of the standards used to approve a home can be found here
. If your home is in compliance with all the standards listed on this list, then it should meet standards for approval.
What are the responsibilities of an Integrity, Inc. Foster Parent?
Integrity foster families have a great deal of responsibility in the day to day care and supervision of the foster care clients who live with them. A review of the foster parent job description, found here
, will give you an idea of what we our agency expects of our foster parents.
What is our typical foster care consumer like?
This is a hard question to answer because our services are specifically tailored to an individual consumer’s specific needs. We provide foster care to both children and adults. With our children, the younger the more developmentally, behaviorally, or medically involved they tend to be. With our adults, there is a wide variety of people we serve. Some adults may be transitioning into young adulthood from their families of origin. Some children and adults may be transitioning into the community from an institutional placement where they may have been for a long term placement. The majority of our foster children are in DCFS (State of Arkansas) Custody. However, occasionally, a family will privately place a child in one of our homes because they cannot meet the child’s level of care need in their own home. In such cases the child’s family retains all Rights and Responsibilities for that child under the law. For our adult foster care consumers, they are presumed to be their own guardians with the right to make their own decisions affecting their lives unless a court of competent jurisdiction has appointed a guardian.
How does Integrity match a foster child with a foster home?
Once a foster family has completed the application, background checks, training, and personnel process, the family is placed on a list to be matched with a foster child. When a referral is received, Integrity staff read the referral packet and if the referred individual seems appropriate for our program, the admissions committee sets up an intake assessment meeting with the child. Based on the intake assessment meeting the intake committee tries to identify a family on our list of approved families that will be a good match for the child. Many factors are considered when matching foster families with potential placements. Some of the factors under consideration are: the individual and the nature or his or her special needs, behavioral challenges, medical needs, placement history, trauma history, case plan goal, foster family composition, bedroom arrangements, foster family work schedules, foster family skill set, etc. Once the admissions committee has identified a match for the referral, that family will have an opportunity to confidentially review information about the referred individual. If the family is interested in pursuing the placement, then a face to face meeting for the family and the foster care referral is set up. If all goes well and all parties involved feel that the match has the potential for success, then an admission will be set up once a funding source is secured for that consumer.
What kind of services do we provide our foster care consumers?
Integrity, Inc. coordinates wraparound services for individuals in our foster care program. A case manager supervises the foster care staff and coordinates the services for each particular client on his or her case load. Our case managers are on call for their clients 24/7 in the event of an emergency or any unforeseen circumstance for which the foster parent needs guidance or direction. Case managers are available to establish and coordinate educational/workshop placements, medical appointments, medication management and counseling appointments, and any other ancillary services an individual in our program may require. Independent living skills training is also available to our foster care clients through Supportive Living or Day Habilitation. For these services, an Integrity worker takes the consumer into the community and works one on one with the consumer teaching him or her independent living skills as outlined in that consumer’s individualized plan of care.
How does Integrity support our foster families?
Integrity, Inc. provides cutting edge training to its foster families. Administrative staff travel nationally on an annual basis to stay current with best practice in the field. We update our Foster Parent training at least annually to reflect new findings in research on children and adults in foster care and with disabilities. Foster parents are required to attend a Quarterly Meeting where training is done and announcements are made in an effort to keep our staff up to date and informed of the most recent issues that impact our program. Monthly visits with the consumer and foster family are made in the foster home. More frequent visits can be made if the need arises due to any concern for the consumer or foster family. For our DCFS foster children, a weekly home visit for the first 12 weeks a child is in the program is made in order to ensure as smooth a transition as possible is occurring in the new placement.
As a foster parent, do I get to choose what type of foster child or adult I want to work with?
Yes…part of the approval and certification process involves working with our Staff Development Personnel in order to identify your strengths and areas of interest. This applies to the age, behaviors, medical condition, diagnosis, special needs and any other factors involved in making informed decisions about the type of individual you are willing to foster.
How long can I keep a foster child in my home?
The length of time a foster care client is placed in our program depends on a wide variety of circumstances, many of which are beyond our control. For our DCFS foster children, case plan goals, efforts towards reunification with birth family, adoption, and independence all factor in to the length of stay. Many of our foster children have been in the program for several years because reunification is not an option in that child’s particular case. Many of our clients age out of foster care and continue to receive services through our Adult Foster Care Program or our Supported Living Program if they choose to have their own home with some supports. Our program will serve our foster care consumers as long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements and can benefit from our services.
What kind of monetary compensation for foster care do Integrity Foster Parents receive?
Integrity pays our foster parents a daily rate based on each night the foster child stays in the home. Pay checks are issued every other Friday for the prior 2 week pay period ending the Sunday prior to the pay day Friday. In addition, foster parents are issued a board and allowance check for the foster care consumer in their home on the second pay day of the month for the previous month. The board payment is intended to cover food and ADL supplies such as shampoo, toothpaste, etc. A purchase order reimbursement process is used to reimburse Foster Parents for “big ticket” items such as school clothes/uniforms and school supplies, etc.
If I have been trained somewhere else as a foster parent do I still have to complete the Integrity Foster Parent Training Classes?
Yes. While we certainly welcome you to provide certificates of previous training along with your application for your file here, we require that all new foster families complete our training so we can be certain that we are all operating from the same base of knowledge. Integrity, Inc. often updates our Foster Parent Training in order to be sure that our foster families have the most recent and cutting edge information in the field of child welfare. We believe that the better informed foster families are, the better equipped they are to care for individuals with special needs. Our training at Integrity focuses in detail on issues related to developmental disabilities and the impact of brain trauma on development.
Can a foster child share a room with my own child?
A foster child may share a room with another child in the family, however, these kind of determinations are made on a case by case basis. Because the individuals we serve have special needs, there may be circumstances involved that would preclude a child from sharing a room. Such factors as space issues, bedroom arrangements are taken into account when the Integrity, Inc. team matches foster children with foster families.
After I complete the process, how long will it be before I have a child placed in my home?
Integrity, Inc. has no control over the referrals we get. Some parents have waited a few years for a child who is a good match to be placed in their home. Others have had placements within a few weeks of completing the process. Certainly the broader a family’s assessed skill set is, and the wider the range of children’s ages and conditions they are willing to work with is, the more likely they are to be matched with a foster child. For example, our program does not frequently receive referrals on children under 7 or 8 years of age. When we do, the referred child often is medically fragile or very behaviorally involved (autism). If a family is willing only to work with a female under age 5 years with no special medical conditions or behavior challenges, the family may be waiting for some time, possibly years, before Integrity would receive such a referral.
What requirements are involved in the application and approval process?
The foster care application and approval process is quite involved. Successful completion of the process requires many steps and requires attention to detail in the application and background check process. In an effort to assist our potential families in completing the process, Integrity has developed a checklist which can be found here
. This checklist should be used by foster parent applicants to track where they are in the application and approval process. It will tell you what comes next and give you some idea of what to expect. The checklist also lists all of the required background checks and instructions on how to complete each one.
We have quarterly trainings. Our application and training process is set up based on a quarterly model (you should be able to complete the process in 3 months). If you would like to apply to be a foster parent with us please use one of the email links at the top of the page or call one of us to set up an appointment to come by and pick up an application.