Qualified foster parents are needed in Arkansas to take special care of children with developmental disabilities and other hardships.
According to the partnership of United Cerebral Palsy and Children’s Rights, at least one-third of the half million U.S. children in foster care suffer from disabilities, ranging from minor developmental disabilities to significant mental or physical issues. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) reports that about 1,200 foster parents provide care for an average of 4,000 local children at any given time.
By using these averages, it is reasonable to assume that approximately 1,300 Arkansas children in foster care suffer from some type of disability. Furthermore, DHS acknowledges that many children are in foster care because they have suffered some sort of emotional or physical abuse or neglect, often because they are deemed “different.” These children need special care and therapy in order to enjoy productive lives. This is why the need for qualified people to become a foster parent for children with developmental disabilities and other special needs is so great.
Fostering a Child with Developmental Disabilities
Providing a safe and stable home for Arkansas children can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a family. While our state is in need of people who are interested in either adopting or fostering a child with developmental disabilities, all applicants must meet certain requirements.
Depending upon the extent of the child’s disability, families may need to make safety modifications to their homes or have access to the therapy resources that their foster children with disabilities need beyond what they can get in the average school setting. Additional supports may also be available to the child and family depending on the nature of the developmental disability experienced by the child.
These guidelines have been established to ensure the experience is positive for both the children and the foster families. If you are a prospective foster parents, here are some of the basic requirements:
- Age: Foster parents must be between the ages of 21 and 65. They must also be at least 10 years older but no more than 45 years older than children they foster.
- Marital Status: Both single individuals and stable couples may be considered as foster parents.
- Housing: Children of at least 4 years of age should have bedrooms that are separated by gender in most cases.
- Smoking: While exceptions are sometimes granted, DHS does not usually accept foster homes if anyone smokes within the house.
- Background: Everyone in the house who is at least 14 years of age has to pass a background check.
- Health: Foster parents need to be healthy and able enough to provide care for children with developmental disabilities. Doctors statements are required on each family member attesting that each member is free from any condition that would adversely affect the welfare of a foster child placed in the home.
- Training: State-mandated pre-service training geared towards the special needs of children with developmental disabilities is required.
- Monitoring: Initially after placement, 12 weekly visits are made to the foster home by an agency representative to monitor the family for regulatory compliance. Then, monthly visits are made with the children by a caseworker and quarterly visits are made to maintain compliance.
How You Can Help Arkansas Foster Children
Becoming a foster parent for children with developmental disabilities is a big step that could make a big difference. At Integrity, Inc., foster homes are chosen to meet the unique needs of children with developmental disabilities. Extra support is provided to those families through every step in the process.
If you would like to become a foster parent to these children, contact Integrity, Inc. to learn more at 501-406-0442. We would love to see you become part of the Integrity network of foster families!